Is Your Child's Teacher a Bully?

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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We've all heard about kids being bullied by peers. Kids taunt, tease, pull hair, shove and push each other on a daily basis. In recent years, schools have taken steps to stop bullying and many have a zero tolerance level for any type of peer harassment. But what if your child's teacher is the bully? New research shows that 2% of children are bullied by a teacher sometime in their elementary or middle school years.

Most teachers are caring and compassionate. They became teachers in order to make a difference in the lives of their pupils. However, some teachers, for one reason or another, take a dislike to a child in their class and pick on them on a daily basis. Such an occurrence can have a long-lasting effect on your child's academic experience and turn his school year into a nightmare. The effects of teacher bullying doesn't usually end when your child leaves the teacher's class. It's something that can stay with him his entire life.

Student Abuse

Teachers who are bullies treat their victims much the same as a schoolyard bully. They humiliate the child in front of his classmates, abuse him verbally and make threats of physical harm or of giving low academic grades. The teacher may center your child out by "making an example" of him and insisting he stand in a corner. Possibly the teacher heaps homework on your child for "punishment" of some minor infraction. There are many different ways that a teacher can bully students.

Suffering in Silence

Chances are if your child is being bullied by a teacher he won't say anything. Boys are more apt to suffer in silence than girls. Boys feel they should be able to "take it" and fear being teased by their peers if they tell. Your child may also fear retaliation by the teacher if he says anything about what is happening. Remember, a teacher is a figure of authority and kids think that there's nothing that can be done if their teacher acts inappropriately.

Signs of Teacher Bullying

When a teacher bullies kids, it is a very traumatic experience for them to go through. They are embarrassed and humiliated and have no idea what steps they can or should take to stop it. They often say nothing, but there are signs that you can watch for:

Headaches, stomachaches and nightmares that occur frequently.

Loss of interest in school.

Negative behavior.

A resistance to attending school.

Self-Deprecating remarks.

Complaints of being picked on by the teacher.

Complains of being constantly yelled at.

Complaints of being humiliated by the teacher.

Complaints of a teacher being rude, making sarcastic remarks or being disrespectful.

Solutions

If you feel your child's teacher may be bullying him, don't stoop to that level. Stay calm and keep an open mind. Approach the situation in a manner that will result in a peaceful but appropriate solution.

Call a meeting between the teacher, the principal and yourself.

State the problem in a calm and courteous voice.

Listen to the teacher's side of the story. Possibly your child has misinterpreted the teacher's actions. Give him/her the benefit of the doubt and keep a sharp eye to see if the problem reoccurs.

Leave a paper trail. Record the dates of all meetings and the results. Write out your concerns and make copies for the teacher and principal. This lets all parties know that you are serious about resolving the issue. Keep all correspondence in a file that is easily accessible.

Go higher. If the situation isn't resolved after the meeting, take it a step higher. At this point a copy of all meetings and correspondence should be sent to the school board of the Superintendent of Schools. Call in advance to find out his/her name and address the issue directly to them. Contacting the school board or the Superintendent of Schools is well within the rights of both you and your child.

Never ignore an instance of teacher bullying. It won't stop unless you make the teacher aware that you know what is happening and make a commitment to ascertain that it stops. Ignoring a teacher who bullies students allows the practice to continue, which places your child under a great deal of stress. This can inadvertently cause your child to become a bully on the playground or in the community. It is his way of releasing some of the stress that he's under.

Show your child that bullying of any kind, even if by a teacher, is wrong. This lets your child know that you listen to his concerns and take his well-being seriously. Giving your child the support that he needs, will have enormous benefits to both you and your child.

Prevent Teacher Bullying

One way to prevent teacher bullying is to visit your child's school often and start a relationship with your child's teacher early in the school year. Volunteer in your child's classroom. If you notice that your child's teacher has a tendency to bully students, meet the challenge head-on and report the incident to the principal. Remember, a teacher's rights end when your child's rights, or any other child's rights, are being infringed upon.

If you suspect a teacher at your child's school is bullying students, step up to the plate and put an end to it immediately. You can make a difference in yours or another child's life by teaching them that bullying of any kind or by any one is an act of cowardice and is not to be tolerated.

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