One in two principals face violence in schools

Physical violence against school principals has increased by nearly 80% since the Australian Catholic University started to collect data.
Principals school violence

School principals have reported record-high rates of physical violence, threats of violence, and bullying, according to new findings from the Australian Catholic University (ACU).

ACU has surveyed thousands of teachers every year since 2011. Its latest report includes results from 2,300 school leaders.

It found physical violence against school principals has increased by nearly 80% since the survey began.

Here’s what you need to know.

Bullying and violence

54% of principals were threatened with violence in schools in 2023.

48% experienced physical violence, the highest level ever reported by the ACU.

38% experienced bullying, up 4% from the previous year.

Half of school leaders surveyed experience some level of anxiety at work.

Sources of stress

These are the top five sources of stress for school leaders:

  1. Workload
  2. Time to focus on teaching
  3. Students’ mental health
  4. Staff’s mental health
  5. Student-related issues

Violence against principals in schools


The majority of violent threats against principals came from parents and caregivers.

They are also the main group responsible for reported bullying (58%), and gossip and slander (65%) experienced by school leaders.

Nearly three in five school leaders agreed or strongly agreed they would “seriously consider leaving” the profession.

“Strong levels of resilience”

Despite increased stress and violence, the report noted “a consistent upward trend” in the resilience of school leaders.

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