Fifty years ago students who acted out in class might be made to wear a dunce’s cap or even be beaten. In today’s schools, this is not acceptable, thankfully. However, children can feel the need to push boundaries in order to find teachers’ limits. They find satisfaction in challenging teachers mentally, socially, and physically. This article is about when this sort of behavior goes too far. Read on to learn about the trend of students bullying teachers!
In schools today teachers can struggle to keep control of a classroom full of students. Technology has shifted the balance of power in favor of the students, who can go home and ruin their teacher’s reputation very easily by using social media, texting and instant messaging. They may spread rumors to their school friends and others about the teacher. There are many things that older students can do in order to take advantage of the teacher, not only in the classroom but also in their everyday lives. This can cause teachers 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.
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. However, what we fail to recognize is that our children are not the only ones being bullied. There are thousands of cases of students bullying teachers around the country. In many cases, high-school students and their parents are intentionally intimidating the teachers when they are not satisfied with a grade, or when the need for discipline arises. This is rapidly becoming a serious concern for high-school teachers. In many countries, it has become harder for governments to persuade people to join the teaching profession. Part of the reason for this may be the intense pressure that comes from feeling powerless to control the children for which you are responsible.
Cyberbullying and Bullying Teachers
We hear about cyberbullying often in the news as well. Students are going online and bullying other students using Facebook, text messages or other social technologies. There have been instances that have been so hurtful to the victim that t has led to suicide.
Unfortunately, teachers are also on the receiving end of cyberbullying, especially when it comes to disgruntled students. 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 to humiliate their teacher. They can also write derogatory comments and insults on their own pages and then invite fellow students to chime in. 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 is seems like a medium where the student can say what they want to say about their teacher without having to face the same consequences that would result if said in person. Children are impulsive and social networking sites are a perfect place to display this impulsiveness and say whatever comes to mind. 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. Children cannot always understand the effects of their actions on other people emotionally, especially when it comes to teachers, who can sometimes appear to be heartless prison-guards/homework distributors rather than living, feeling human beings. Teachers should print a copy of any personal abuse posted online, either about them or written by his or her students. Sadly sometimes parents can become involved, and even contribute to, cyberbullying of teachers online. This can make the lives of teachers very hard indeed.
How to reduce the instances of cyber-bullying
Here are some ways that teachers can reduce the danger of cyberbullying in their classrooms:
- Regularly search your own name online. Google yourself, search for Facebook pages which include your their name and search for Twitter accounts that contain your name.
- Don’t ever connect with current and potential future students and parents on social networks. 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 the possibility of your social media accounts being hacked. Keep all accounts set on the most private settings. Also, password-protect your mobile phone.
- 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.
Other Ways Students Bully
High school students can bully a teacher in a number of ways. They can use their bad behavior as a tool to gain attention from other students. This takes attention away from the lesson and from the teacher. Students also bully teachers through social media, or by sending derogatory texts and instant messages to other students via cell phone. Bullying 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 as physical harm is. Mental abuse can take place when the student threatens the teacher, leaving the teacher feeling fearful of the student. Emotional abuse can occur if the teacher is sexually harassed or defamed, and when the reputation of the teacher and their career are put in jeopardy.
Any abuse that brings the teacher’s personal life into the mix will cause severe anxiety and stress for the teacher, 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. There are also instances reported of teachers bullying teachers.
Dealing with School Administrations and Parents
There have been many instances of students bullying teachers in the classroom while another student uses their cell phone to video the incident. These videos are later posted on social networking sites and YouTube. This results in the teacher feeling helpless. However, school administrations do not seem to be doing much about these sorts of occurrences. For some reason, everyone tends simply sweep these terrible occurrences under the rug. Sometimes the principal or administration lets the student go without punishment because they do not want to deal with the situation.
This leaves teachers who are bullied by their students feeling helpless and fearing to come into work every day. According to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, there has been a decline in teacher satisfaction in the USA over the last couple of years. Many teachers today find themselves thinking about leaving education all together at some point in the future. Uncooperative school administrations, those that do not support proper discipline for students who bully teachers, are part of the problem, and a contributing factor to teachers leaving their profession.
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.
- They blame the teacher and do nothing about their child’s behavior.
Many times when a teacher feels victimized, it is partly because of parents not providing any assistance in the situation. Unfortunately, this can allow the situation to escalate. Many teachers feel that they are being ineffective, but this is not the case. They are not at fault for these bullying situations.
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.
According to CNN’s Schools blog, 44 percent of teachers have experienced physical victimization, but only 57 percent of those have reported it. Abuse from students happens to both male and female teachers. Men experience more obscene remarks, obscene gestures, and verbal threats, and women experience more intimidation by students.
Preventing students from bullying teachers has to start with the school administration. Faculty, admin, and other school staff members need to start each year with a meeting determining an explicit and universal policy for disciplinary action against student bullies, including those that bully teachers and other staff. This policy needs to be communicated clearly to parents, possibly numerous times, by verbal and written communication. Parents need to understand the seriousness of the problem, and the severity of the punishment. After the school year starts, this same policy needs to be adequately communicated to each student, either in assembly, in the classroom, or by intercom announcements.
There are simple actions that a teacher can take to reduce bullying situations in the classroom: They can always keep lines of communication open with students and parents. Motivating students is also important. When teachers can keep the students active in the learning process (which can be 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 have constantly engaged in note taking, or active teaching, there may not be time for students to interact with each other. This can go a long way in preventing many bullying situations.
Did you know that a high percentage of teachers admit to bullying students? Also, explore the world of modern age school bullying and learn how students can fight back against bullying!
Also, please spread the word on this alarming trend of students bullying teachers. Are you bullied as a teacher? How did you act when you were bullied as a teacher? Please let us know in the comment section below.