Northern Ireland news

Union warns of teachers living in abusive relationships

UTU general secretary Jacquie White

HIGHER numbers of teachers could be living in abusive relationships, a union has warned.

The Ulster Teachers' Union urged education officials to ensure those facing abuse were supported.

Police revealed that from October 2018 to September 2019 there were 31,817 domestic abuse incidents, an increase of 2.5 per cent on the previous 12 months.

UTU general secretary Jacquie White said one woman in four would experience domestic violence.

Due to the high numbers of women in classrooms, she added: "The problem could well be more widespread in teaching than in many others.

"Society has a responsibility, and employers, because if someone is being abused that is bound to have a negative knock-on effect on their work.

"The UTU is committed to supporting any members - male or female - facing this kind of abusive behaviour. But we need the employing authorities too to shoulder their responsibilities in ensuring their employees have the support they need to do their job."

As a first step, Ms White suggested that employers add a clause to the Teachers' Attendance Procedures "to treat appropriately absence due to domestic violence".

"Domestic abuse makes no difference between class, creed, race, profession or age yet professional men and women tend to feel a heightened sense of shame that they have become victims," she said.

"Often, they're holding down demanding jobs and fear that to admit to being a victim of domestic abuse would somehow reflect negatively on their ability to do that job.

"This is an issue which society, including our employing authorities, must be prepared to tackle."

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