There is a lot of talk about bullying these days — and thank goodness there is! I have been heading up our local Pink T-Shirt Day campaign (www.pinktshirtday.ca) for the past several years in an effort to get people talking about bullying and to teach kids skills for helping to deal with things when they encounter bullying. I will be sure to talk about some of these skills in other posts as they are so very important.
One of the things we tell our children is to talk to a teacher when they feel they are being bullied or see someone else being bullied at school. But what do you do when the bully is one of the teachers?
When the Bully is the Teacher
Now, before anyone gets too excited, I do know that the majority of teachers are wonderful and have the best interests of their students at heart. However, a new friend of mine was relaying a story about when she was is school, and I realized as the story progressed that her teacher had bullied her. This really got me thinking! Looking back, I can also remember several times in my school days when kids were bullied by teachers. I really remember one boy in my class who really went through so much one year in school because our teacher really picked on him. I was young, naive, and it never would have occurred to me to tell my parents or another teacher what was happening. I doubt this little boy did either.
I know kids will often complain about their teachers, but there is a big difference between a teacher being firm, expecting the kids to pay attention, and insisting that there work be done and handed in on time, and a teacher who ridicules, taunts, or continually chastises a child. We need to be sure we really understand what is behind the complaints.
As parents, we can help our children by letting them know that it is not ok for anyone to treat them or anyone else in a manner that feels like bullying. Make sure they know that bullying can be a combination of many different things. According to www.bullying.org, bullying is doing, saying or acting in a way that hurts someone else or makes him or her feel bad on purpose. Make sure they understand that it is not ok for a teacher or any adult to call them names, tell them they are stupid, or push them around. Make sure your kids know that they can tell you or another adult they trust if they feel their teacher is a bully.
Dealing with Bullies
So, what do we do if our child comes to us and we realize that the bully is one of their teachers? I would suggest (after you’ve had some time to calm down — I know my initial reaction would be to freak out and want to slap someone up side the head, but this would be neither appropriate or productive) talk to a few of the other parents you know and see if they have heard similar complaints from their child. Call the school and set up a meeting with the principal (and ask other parents to join you if they have the same concern) and possibly the teacher in question. Calmly and objectively tell them what your child has told you. If the principal doesn’t want take any action, or you are not satisfied with their suggested resolution, you may wish to take your concerns to the school board.
That’s my opinion, anyway. What would you do? Let me know