Being bullied is a scary and hurtful event when it is peer to peer bullying. A child often feels alone, their self esteem plummets, and they are ashamed to share the truth and get help. Teachers bullying students also occurs across the school system, and sadly many students do not know where to turn because they are afraid to get into trouble. When it is an adult that is doing the bullying, the damage can be much worse because the child does not even realize that the adult is in the wrong.
Now, let’s examine this video, a teacher creates what is deemed by her a “Wheel of Misfortune”, which is an actual wheel depicting the potential punishments to discipline a student. The punishments on the wheel include failing an upcoming exam, buying the teacher a bottle of water, passing the punishment on to a classmate and lining up for a firing squad of rubber balls where students took turns throwing the balls at their classmates with the teacher keeping “the last ball” for herself to throw. Is that a teacher bullying students situation or merely a new inventive way of disciplining a student?
Another example is this piece of new from Sydney, Australia where a special needs students has sued his high school, claiming he was bullied by teachers and forced to do tasks not modified for his learning difficulties. He said that his teachers gave him detention, denied him access to the toilet, falsely accused him of violence, criticized, mocked and belittled him in front of his classmates. Teachers, according to him, also excluded him from classes and exams, forced him to complete group assignments alone and confiscated his property for no reason.
Teachers Bullying Students: Students Trust Adults in Positions of Authority
Children are taught by adults to obey, and to trust them because they are older and wiser. They are taught to listen to their teacher because she understands life, is fair, and trained to handle children. But what if that teacher breaks that trust that the parents have given her? What if a teacher is the bully? How is a child to know that the behavior of this adult is wrong, and there is not something inherently wrong with them? The answer is that most children, even teens, will not realize that the adult in the situation is wrong, they will believe that there is something un-likable about them to make this adult not like them.
Sadly there have been many cases of teachers bullying students. In anonymous surveys, many teachers have admitted to abusing their power in some way.
- Listen to your child, keep communication open. At first your child may not even realize he is being bullied, he may just comment on the teacher being “no fair” or “harder on him” in comparison to other students.
- Open a line of communication between you and the school concerning your issues. If the teacher is too abrasive to talk to, ask for an administrator to mediate the discussion. A good teacher should be willing to talk about any concerns you have for your child.
- Do not go about the discussions aggressively, you are there to defend your child, but that does not automatically make you and the teacher enemies. Try to be professional.
- Follow up. Ask your child after the issue seems to be resolved if the teachers’ behavior has indeed improved.
- As always, keep those lines of communication open between you and your child, and the school.
Teachers Are Human Too
Teachers are trained to teach groups of children, and to handle behavior problems. Remember that they are all too human too, they are guilty of choosing favorites and singling out so called problem students.
Sometimes the problem lies in a generation gap. For example there is a teacher who put in over thirty years of work, she was considered hard but her high school students who put in the effort were rewarded. Then in her last two years before retirement she decided she wanted to try elementary teaching, she believed that it would be easier on her to teach just one group of students all day in comparison to the four classes she had to teach daily in the upper levels. There were problems from day one, parents complaining about her attitude, aggression, and singling out particular students. The environment in that class was hostile and at least two of the students were being outright bullied by her. When report cards came, the grades of even the best students were dismal. No one knew exactly how to handle the situation because she was already a proven teacher.
Why did her skill set fall so much over the summer? After a week of observations in her classroom, it was discovered that she was indeed bullying some students, and very unprofessional. They also discovered the problem; she spent her entire career teaching students who were heading towards graduation, basically adults. When faced with an elementary class she had no idea that a certain amount of shuffling, and unruliness was common for boys of that age. It was literally a generational gap and as soon as she adjusted her expectations, and stopped taking normal elementary school behavior personally she became a student and parent favorite. The point of this story is to show that sometimes, the teachers are seeing things from an entirely wrong perspective and as professionals growing and improving is considered part of the job. You may be surprised how receptive a teacher is to communicate.
Sadly though, teachers are not immune to personality disorders and if the problem in the classroom cannot be solved by getting to the root of it and open professional communication, then do not be hesitant to remove your child from the care of the bullying, unrepentant teacher. Show your child that they are not alone, and if an adult is a bully, then the adult is in the wrong, by removing the child from the situation.
Whatever the reason, teachers bullying students is never acceptable. As always, talk to your child about school and always make him comfortable enough to tell you about any issues.
Spread the word on cases of teachers bullying students!