New South Wales schools account with a record number of violent assaults, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The data released on Wednesday shows assaults on students in primary and secondary schools rose by nearly 60 per cent to 5,947 in the year to April.
Of those, 5,731 were reported to police.
The figures show there were more than 4,000 reported assaults in 2017-18.
The national average for the past decade was 1,500 assaults.
It is the first time NSW has recorded more than 1,000 violent assaults since 1999-2000.
State Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the figures showed schools had become the biggest victims of violent crime.
“We know that there’s a significant proportion of kids in NSW, and we know that that has been a significant factor in the increase in school assaults in the past year,” Mr Foley said.
“We know it’s a very, very, low rate of students being assaulted in school.”
The number of reported assaults has also been increasing in NSW.
Last year, police recorded more violent incidents in the state than in any other state.
The number is still lower than the national average of 1,400.
The new figures are likely to fuel renewed calls for a crackdown on school violence.
The NSW Government has announced it will introduce new laws in the coming months aimed at protecting schools and ensuring they are safe places for young people.
“I think we are seeing a big increase in the number of incidents, the number that have been reported, the seriousness of those incidents,” Education Minister Michelle Rowland said.
She said the increase was not the result of any policy changes but was driven by the “huge and growing number of young people who are going to school”.
“There’s a huge number of kids who are in school who are vulnerable and in a situation where they’re going to get involved in the world of cyber bullying,” she said.
The State Government is also planning to introduce a new online harassment prevention service in the near future.
Ms Rowland also announced the State Government would take steps to make sure young people in the classroom are protected from cyber bullying, including new training.
Ms Foley said she was not surprised the state was experiencing a spike in reported assaults.
“That’s a normal thing to do when it’s an issue of bullying, but I do think it’s important that the public knows that we’ve got a real, ongoing, serious issue here,” she told the ABC.
“And we’ve just had a massive increase in reported incidents.”