Sent to us by Alan Brady.
Bullying is a major problem in schools everywhere. Teachers and staff are usually working to prevent or minimize bullying wherever they can, however sometimes the teachers or staff are actually the bullies. Many parents feel outraged and helpless at this type of situation, because they don’t know what to do. The course of action you should take is of course dependent on the specifics of the situation. Here are a few examples and different steps that are appropriate to take in the circumstances.
Changes in Your Childs Behavior
If your child is complaining about low grades, upset about being called out in front of the class by a teacher, and is becoming more withdrawn your first instinct might be to run in and accuse the teacher to their face. Not only is this less likely to fix the problem but the teacher might not even deserve the blame. Write the teacher or visit with them and let them know about the changes in your child’s behavior and ask them if they’ve seen anything that would be impacting your child. The teacher might be aware of other factors, like other students picking on your child, resulting in lower performance at school and resulting in misplaced frustration toward the teacher. Even if you consider your child to be equally or more credible than the teacher, do not ask for the teacher’s “side of the story”. Being rude to a teacher by treating them like a naughty child could turn a powerful potential ally hostile which your child cannot afford if they have bullying problems from other sources that they don’t want to mention. Also be aware that an inexperienced teacher might not be aware of the impact of their own actions, and a calm explanation can lead them to correct their behavior.
If Your Child Tells You About Explicit Abuse
A few ways to be absolutely sure of teacher abuse include unprofessional and uncalled for notes from the teacher on graded papers, stories of teacher’s slapping, spanking, or hitting students, and mocking or insulting your child. Unless you have some hard evidence you’ll want as many witnesses as possible. Arrange a meeting with the teacher and the teacher’s superior, usually a principal. When in the meeting make sure you’re professional and calm so that you don’t come across as a hysterical parent (you won’t be taken as seriously). Lay out exactly what you know without exaggeration and let the principal draw the logical conclusions. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly by the principal as well you can take your case to the school district, or you can take legal action against the school. Be aware that if you take legal action you’ll need some sort of solid evidence.
If your child accidentally or deliberately indicates to you that they’ve been a victim of sexual abuse you need to remain calm. Getting too riled up can scare your child and make them feel that they’ve done something wrong, which will keep them from telling you what happened. Calmly ask them to tell you their story, and if you have a phone you can try to record it. Contact your local authorities immediately (the nationwide child abuse hotline is 1-800-422-4453, or you can call 911).
Alan Brady is a blogger who shares his personal experiences concerning divorce, his daughters, and being a single parent.
A personal note or two: I remember teachers picking on students; some of the coaches at our high school would hit the student on the forehead by popping them with their college ring. A certain high school basketball coach would paddle a player when he missed a free throw. Years later, one of our daughters experienced a ” paddle lick” (another coach) in front of the whole class – she was wearing a cheerleader uniform, which was short. ( I didn’t know anything about it until much later.) This type of humiliation has been going on for too long – from way back when to now. There are more stringent standards that teachers and students should abide by, but you still hear reports of this type of behavior. I feel sure there are many stories that could be shared, these are just a few incidents from my past. As the article says, the teacher deserves to give his/her side of the story. No child should be embarrassed by a teacher before their peers. We are certainly not picking on teachers, as they have a huge challenge in teaching our future generations. Many of them are very kind and loving. Students should give them the respect they deserve, unless they are exhibiting inappropriate behavior. pb