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Similar incidents in HK
On the condition of anonymity, one teacher in Hong Kong who has taught at three city schools spoke to the Young Post about her experiences, revealing that front-line situations are not so unusual here either.
On one occasion, she says, a boy pulled a knife on her in class, and to the best of her knowledge he was not disciplined. On another occasion, she caught three students sniffing cocaine in class.
She said a teachers' meeting yielded little in the way of results, and all she could was to try to prevent them from sitting together and from using the toilet during class.
She says she has had classes of 45 students in which 'up to 40 of them would be sleeping, calling out across the room to each other, throwing things across the classroom, drawing on books or desks, doing their hair'.
Having foul language directed at her - in both English and Cantonese - is not unusual, she says. One Form Three boy did nothing but abuse her, except when he dropped off to sleep - 'a situation I much preferred, but which was frowned upon by the school authorities'.
She says she knows of other teachers 'who have had chairs and desks thrown at them in the classroom; been punched or pushed over by students'. One student set his school jumper on fire by playing with a cigarette lighter under the desk, she says. Reflecting on recent events in Britain, she sums up: 'Teachers are human beings, and often it is the drip, drip, drip of a constant series of little events - each quite minor in their own way, but cumulatively larger than Everest - that leads to the actions of a Peter Harvey.'
But, she adds: 'I think Hong Kong society still, in general, has a respect for teachers and learning that has, largely, disappeared from the West.'