"I can't do that anymore." Why so many teachers are walking away from the career they loved.


Being a teacher is, arguably, one of the most important jobs a person can do.

After all, teachers are responsible for educating and nurturing our children, giving them the tools, knowledge and skills to tackle many of the problems we’ve left for the next generation to solve.

But more and more, teachers are leaving the profession. They simply can’t do it anymore.

They’re passionate about children’s education, but more than the long hours, unpaid overtime, ever-increasing workload and the pressure to do all of this with decreasing support and resources, there’s a greater and more troubling reason teachers are walking away from the career they love.

Abusive parents.

A recent study from La Trobe University in Melbourne found 80 per cent of teachers had experienced some form of student or parent-led bullying in the last 12 months. In 2018 alone, 45 per cent of school principals were threatened with violence by parents, an Australian Catholic University report showed.

“You basically become deflated… I can't do that anymore,” former teacher George Allertz says. Image: Nine.

From something as small as the height of a heel on a school shoe to what homeroom their child was placed in, for some parents, going through the formal channels for complaints isn't enough.

One of those teachers who has experienced firsthand the effect abusive, bullying parents is having on good educators is former teacher George Allertz, who left the teaching profession for many reasons, including physical, verbal and electronic bullying and harassment from parents.

"You're going home after being abused from a parent because they didn't agree with something that you taught or the way that you taught it,” Allertz told reporter Liam Bartlett for a special 60 Minutes education report airing on Sunday at 8.40pm on Channel Nine.

“You basically become deflated… I can't do that anymore."

Allertz went on to recount how parents behaviour has changed throughout his teaching career, escalating from voicing concerns to displaying physical violence.

“We’ve had parents that have fought on school grounds, which led to the police being involved, and parents escorted off school grounds,” he said.


“Parents have been swearing and fighting, really horrific language and without a care in the world about it.”

You can watch the trailer for the 60 Minutes investigation into the abuse of teachers by parents below, post continues after video.

This isn't an isolated incident. It's more than just one parent or one school, or even one state.

Previously, Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates told Mamamia just how bad the situation of parents bullying teachers and displaying abusive behaviour has gotten in recent years.

“When I first became an organiser back in 1994, I would have rarely dealt with these sorts of issues... what we’re actually seeing here is a breakdown in what are absolutely standard and expected norms of behaviour," he said.

“It’s something that’s reached a crescendo at this point in time and needs to be dealt with. How are we meant to keep good order in the school by establishing strong behaviour expectations for students if the adults in those students’ lives are willing to misbehave when they’re inside the school grounds?"

So how do we stop this kind of behaviour and prevent good teachers from giving up?

Earlier this year, a Queensland school took a hard stance against the bullying of its teachers and staff after online abuse reached "unacceptable" levels following changes to its uniform policy.


In a memo sent home from The Gap State High School Principal (TGSHS) Anne McLauchlan, parents were warned "derogatory, insulting and unsolicited social media posts about staff", as well as physical, hostile incidents on school grounds would be reported to the Department of Education.

Mamamia Out Loud discussed the increasingly bad behaviour from parents towards teachers below, post continues after audio.

On the other side of this argument are parents who believe their rights to advocate for their children are being threatened, the 60 Minutes investigation found.

The report spoke to a number of parents who say the education system is broken, and that their kids are being neglected or discouraged by their schools.

“Why can’t we have the right to speak up for our children?” father Kevin Saunders told 60 Minutes after being disciplined for criticising the way his teenager was being taught.

With disgruntled parents and teachers pushed to their limits on either side of this debate, where do we draw the line?

You can watch the education report on 60 Minutes this Sunday night at 8.40pm on Channel Nine.

Are you a teacher who has experienced abuse from parents? Or are you a parent who has experienced criticism for making school complaints? tell us your thoughts in the comments below.