Fifty years ago, students who acted out in class would be sent to sit in the corner, wear a dunce cap, or be slapped on the wrist. This was punishment enough to usually stop the bad behavior. In today’s schools, this is non-existent, and laughable. Children feel the need to push the line to find the teacher’s limit. They find satisfaction in challenging the teacher mentally, socially, and physically. Learn about the trend of Students Bullying Teachers!
With our digital age full of technology that everyone uses on a daily and even hourly basis strangely brings on an attitude of complete disrespect for any and all adults by adolescents. This brings on a feeling of entitlement, and an assumption that young people should get what they want, whenever they want, and they want it right now. The odd part is that they don’t want to work for it, or earn it; they simply want it to be given to them.
In schools today, teachers struggle to keep control of a classroom full of students, who can go home and ruin the teacher’s reputation very easily by using social media, or by texting and instant messaging. There are many things that older students can do in order to take control of the teacher, not only in the classroom, but in their everyday lives, causing them to fear their jobs, and fear going out in public. There are countless social media pages set up simply to embarrass and harass teachers and other faculty members in schools.
Dictionary.com says that a bully is an “overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people” as a noun. The verb form of the word bully is “intimidate; domineer,” also according to Dictionary.com. It lists the following synonyms for the word bully: browbeat, coerce, terrorize, and tyrannize.
We hear a lot in the news and in schools about bullying. We are trained to recognize the signs of our children being bullied, such as moodiness, withdrawing from family and friends, not wanting to talk about school, anxiety and loss of appetite. We are quick to run to administration and teachers when we fear that our child is being bullied. There are even “No Tolerance for Bullying” signs and “Bully Free Zone” signs around our schools.
We are trained by the media and our communities to look out for and prevent bullying. What we fail to recognize is that our children are not the only ones being bullied. There are thousands of cases of students bullying their teachers around the country. High school students, and their parents, are intentionally intimidating the teachers when they are not satisfied with a grade, or when the need to discipline arises. This is rapidly becoming a fear amongst high school teachers. Unfortunately, it is not being recognized as much as it’s younger counterpart, student bullying, but the results are just as detrimental.
Students Bullying Teachers: Cyber Bullying
We hear about cyber-bullying often in the news. Students are getting online and bullying other students over the internet. They are using social networking sites, YouTube, instant messaging and texting to harass, embarrass and in general, bully other students. There have been instances that have been so hurtful that students have contemplated, and even committed suicide.
Unfortunately, teachers are on the receiving end of cyber-bullying sometimes, especially when it comes to a disgruntled student. There are so many cases of high school students walking out of class, going to the school library, or home, and immediately creating fake accounts simply in order to humiliate the teacher. If this is not the case, they will write derogatory comments and insults on their own pages, and invite fellow students to chime in with their own negative comments and insults. Kids just want to fit in with their peers, and this is a reason why so many kids are feeding on the fury of cyber-bullying. In many cases, this all occurs because a student was not satisfied with what they deem to be an unfair grade on a test or assignment.
The reason this is done via the internet is because this seems like a place where the student can say what they want to say about their teacher, and they won’t have to face the same consequences that they would if they had said it to the teacher in person. Sometimes the students just assume that it is anonymous, or that the teacher will not find out about it. Other times, the teacher is meant to see it and be intentionally hurt by it. In any event, teachers are encouraged to always print or keep evidence of online bullying.
Children are impulsive and social networking sites are a perfect place to display this impulsiveness and say whatever comes to mind. They then claim to have “free speech” at the expense of someone’s life, in this case, the personal and professional life of their teacher. Sadly, sometimes parents are in on this cyber-bullying while this is quickly becoming an epidemic that is causing much of the decline in our schools across the nation.
- Teachers can periodically search their name online. They can Google themselves, and search for Facebook pages which include their name, or search for Twitter accounts that contain their names.
- Don’t ever become friends on social networks with current and potential future students and parents. This will cut down on the amount of personal information that they know about you.
- Always make sure to password protect everything online. This will reduce any instance of your social media accounts being hacked. Keep all accounts set on the most private settings. Also, password protect your mobile phone in the instance that you lose it, or it is stolen by a student.
- Keep your private life private. Don’t share too much about your family, home, and background to your students and their parents.
- Always report any suspicious activity on your personal social networking accounts. Keep in mind that anything personal that people can see could be used to bully you or your family.
High school students can bully a teacher in a number of ways. First, they can use their bad behavior in class as a tool to gain attention from other students in class. This takes attention away from the lesson and from the teacher, in turn, the bullying student will gain control of the classroom. Another way to bully a teacher is outside of the classroom. This can also be done by cyber-bullying through social media, or by sending derogatory texts and instant messages to other students via cell phone. It can be done by merely disrespecting the teacher in the hallway, or at a school event, or by spreading false and detrimental rumors about the teacher among the other students in the school.
Bullying towards teachers can come in many different forms. Obviously, students can physically harm a teacher. They can throw things, hit, kick, punch, slap, flick, and push the teacher. Students can harass, intimidate, and disrespect the teacher. Verbal abuse is also prevalent among students bullying teachers. Verbal assault is just as damaging to anyone as physical harm is. Mental abuse can take place when the student threatens the teacher, leaving the teacher feeling fearful of the student, and also fearful for their lives outside of the school building. Emotional abuse can occur if the teacher is sexually harassed or harassed online, and when the reputation of the teacher and their career is in jeopardy.
Abuse that brings the teacher’s family or personal life into the mix will cause severe anxiety and stress on the teacher, and their spouse and other family members. Other forms of bullying teachers can be obscene gestures and unfortunately, there have been cases of weapons pulled on the teacher inside and outside of the classroom. Vandalism of the teachers’ personal property, and classroom property and equipment is a form of bullying. WSOCTV.com 9 Investigates, a television news station out of Charlotte, NC, claims that there have been reports of students trying to choke teachers by putting their hands around the teachers’ necks, and also instances of students putting chemicals in teachers’ drinks, in order to poison them.
DEALING WITH ADMINISTRATION AND PARENTS
There have been many instances of students in the classroom bullying the teacher while another student uses their cell phone to video the incident, and then later posts this video on social networking sites and YouTube. This results in the teacher feeling helpless, while administrations do not seem to be doing much about these occurrences. In many of these instances, charges are not pressed, or the teacher is encouraged not to press charges on the students by administration. For some reason, everyone except the teacher desires to simply sweep these terrible occurrences under the rug. Sometimes the principal or administration lets the student go without punishment, solely because they do not want to deal with the situation with the student and their parents.
This leaves teachers who are bullied by their students feeling helpless and fearing coming to work every day, knowing that they will face these same students day after day. According to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, there has been a decline in teacher satisfaction among the teachers in America over the last couple of years. Many of the teachers today find themselves thinking about leaving education all together at some point in the future. Teachers are grossly underpaid for the impact that they are making on students today. Uncooperative administrations or administrations that do not support impactful discipline for students who bully teachers are part of the problem for these teachers leaving their profession. Students are called down to the principal’s office and simply told to discontinue their disrespectful behavior, in turn, making the behavior worse in some cases.
According to The Educator’s Room article “The Bullied Teacher”, phone calls made home to parents usually end in one of three ways. The parents don’t respond to any attempts made to communicate with the school, they reply with “lip service” in that they say they will talk to their child, but nothing results from this, or they blame the teacher and do nothing about their child’s behavior, and they will claim that their child is practicing their right for “free speech.” Many times when a teacher feels victimized, it is partly because of the parent lacking any assistance in the situation. Unfortunately, this is leading to a rapid increase in teachers going on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications, just in order to go to work every day and face their classroom full of teenagers, for whose high school educations they are responsible. Many teachers feel that they are being ineffective, but this is not the case. They are not at fault for these bullying situations. Many non-teachers feel that getting up in front of a classroom full of hormonal and energetic teenagers with all kinds of opinions on everything takes a lot of gumption.
When discipline is brought into the situation, sometimes the teacher deems it difficult to carry out assigning punishment to the bullying student. There are some instances where it is the school requirement for a teacher issuing detention to a student to stay after school and sit with the student while they are serving their time. This puts the teacher in further danger, while they may be left alone in a classroom, where the bullying can continue, and there can be further harm done to the teacher.
According CNN’s blog Schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com, 44% of teachers have experienced physical victimization, but only 57% of those have reported it. Abuse from students happens to both male and female teachers, while men experience more obscene remarks, obscene gestures and verbal threats, and women experience more intimidation by students.
Preventing students from bullying teachers starts at the administration level. Faculty, administrators and other school staff members need to start each year off by being on the same page with disciplinary actions against student bullies. This must include those that bully other students, and those that bully teachers and staff. There needs to be punishments put into place, while that punishment will be used every time there is a bullying situation, with no exceptions. This protocol needs to be communicated clearly to parents, possibly numerous times, via verbal and written communication. Parents need to understand the seriousness of the problem, and understand the severity of the punishment, should their student be punished for bullying a teacher.
After the school year starts, this same protocol needs to be adequately communicated to each student via assembly, classroom, and intercom announcements. There also needs to be written communication, in a contract form, that students and parents will need to sign in the event that there is a student bullying teacher occurrence. Strict guidelines need to be followed by teachers, administrators, and parents in these situations. These guidelines should apply to any and all bullying situations. Actions should be communicated from the county/city school board all the way down to the parents and students. This will help communicate the strictness of each disciplinary situation.
There are simple actions that a teacher can take to cut down on any bullying situations that may occur within the classroom. They can always keep lines of communication open with students and parents. Make sure that everyone can communicate clearly and openly discuss any situation that may be happening inside and outside the classroom, among students and teachers. When teachers can keep the students active in the learning process, which is harder than it sounds, most bullying situations can be prevented. When students are left with free time or left to work in groups, or work independently, things can escalate into bad circumstances. When students are constantly engaged in note taking, or active teaching, there may not be time for students to interact with each other, therefore warding off many bullying situations.