The acceptance that abuse of school principles and leaders as a normative behaviour must be put to bed this year. This abuse cannot be accepted, tolerated, excused or explained away by education authorities and by government.

Principals themselves must be proactive on this issue. If they are abused they must insist on redress of the situation.

The revelation that half the Northern Territory’s school principals have been physically attacked at work (Wave of abuse at principals, NT News 27/2/2019) is appalling. The matter needs to be firmly addressed and not accepted as being normative, tolerated behaviour.

Government and the Department of Education uphold the safety of school staff as being a matter of utmost importance. If those words are to have meaning, there needs to be more than acquiescing to the abuse trending towards school leaders. The issue should also be one of the highest priorities on the NT Principals Association agenda.

Principals have a right to feel protected and should not be discouraged from reporting and following through on matters of assault. The Education Department’s legal arm should be to the fore in supporting principals and prosecuting assailants through the courts.

It is not good enough for principals to be given an annual allowance to fund programs helping them cope with the stress of assault. That is tantamount to accomodating actions which should never occur.

Firm action against abusive students and adults would provide a clear and visible message that school leaders are not prepared to absorb this behaviour. That action has to be paramount. Assault against principals must not be tolerated. The trend must be countered openly, visibly and with full backing by Government, the Education Department and the Principals Association.

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