Schools are supposed to keep bullying in check, while teaching tolerance to children - but new research has shown it's not as simple as it sounds.
A new survey of principal safety shows 40 per cent of public and private school principals have been threatened with violence, while 27 per cent have been attacked.
Principals face the heaviest pressure from primary school parents while students are the ones more prone to lashing out in high school.
Australian Catholic University associate professor Philip Riley has called on authorities to do more to support principals, with his research also showing they're at a high risk of burning out because of a lack of support and increased work load.
"I know of a case in which a private school principal was pinned up against a brick wall by a barrister holding his elbow across his throat because of a dispute about fees. What worries is the pressure of work has become such a burden that many principals are suffering a decline in their health" Prof Riley said.
The problem also makes it hard to replace principals when they resign, with senior teachers being scared away from the role because of its punishing workload.