DOI: 10.1002/pits.23058 ISSN:

A comparison of general and special educators' experiences with teacher‐directed aggression and violence

Kayleigh E. Zinter, Susan D. McMahon, Megan R. Greeson, Kailyn Bare
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education


Teacher‐directed violence has been acknowledged as a major issue in research over the past decade. Teacher‐directed violence is the over‐arching term used to describe teachers' experiences with physical violence and aggression (i.e., harassment, intimidation, verbal threats). This study is the first to quantitatively compare general education and special education teachers' experiences with violence from a variety of aggressors, including students, parents, colleagues, and administrators. Understanding the unique experiences of special and general educators is needed to inform intervention and prevention efforts focused on teacher‐directed violence. Data from 2363 teachers who participated in a national study in the United States examining teachers' experiences with violence and aggression were analyzed using multiple logistic regression. Comparisons of special and general educators revealed special educators were more likely to report experiencing aggression in the current or past year. Special educators were also more likely to report violence by student aggressors, while general educators were more likely to report violence by parent aggressors. Further, teacher demographic characteristics (i.e., age, gender, race/ethnicity, years of experience) and school setting (i.e., rural, urban, suburban) influenced experiences of teacher‐directed violence for both general and special educators. Findings suggest the need for future longitudinal and mixed‐methods studies, providing more educators, training, and supports in special education settings, and incorporating all school stakeholders in school‐wide interventions.

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