The Akron-based Victim Assistance Program is launching a free monthly support group for educators who have been assaulted by students.

The group is open to teachers, custodial staff, bus drivers, lunch staff, substitutes, secretaries and others. The nonclinical, psycho-educational peer support group will give participants the opportunity to meet others who share similar experiences, learn about healthy ways to cope with their victimization, and become educated about the healing process.

A 2013 survey from the American Psychological Association concluded that 80 percent of teachers reported being victimized at least once during the current or past school year.

“This much-needed support group is vital for the well-being of teachers and staff whose lives are suddenly disrupted by student violence,” Pamela Hinton, retired assistant principal from Barberton and founder of F.I.V.E.S. (Facing Incidents of Violence Against Educators & Staff), said in a prepared statement. “As a victim myself, Victim Assistance provided me with encouragement, compassion, and support to heal and move forward.”

Victim Assistance Program President and CEO Leanne Graham said Hinton made her aware of "the reality of this unreported victimization."

“We have strived to both identify and close this gap in services offered to school personnel victimized by students,” Graham said in a prepared statement.

 A total of 12 participants will be accepted.

For more information or to participate, contact the Victim Assistance Program at 330-376-7022, ext. 218, or support@victimassistanceprogram.org.