Wednesday, May 30, 2012

School Bully: Your Child's Teacher?

Students are all too familiar with the school yard bully: the stories of the big guy stealing lunch money, or the catty group of girls that work to destroy another girl's self-esteem. But bullies come in all shapes and sizes. What if one of those bullies happens to be your child's teacher?

According to an article on WebMD, psychiatrist Stuart Twemlow, MD completed an anonymous survey of teachers in which 45% admitted to having bullied a student.* If that statistic is applied across the board, it means that nearly one half of all students are being bullied by a teacher! Perhaps it is more common than people think.

Prevention may not be possible, but identifying the problem could be the first step to a solution.

Listen to what he says, and listen to what he doesn't say.

What he says:
  • A bullied student may make excuses to stay home from school or leave school.
  •  A child may complain that his teacher has called the class names; names such as "geeks" and "nerds." 
  • The comments may became more personal. Things like: "Maybe the doctor can fix what's wrong with your head." or "Maybe he'll (the doctor) take a look at your face." or "You should be able to take that like a man."
  •  Repeated phrases may begin to show up that imply more than they say: things like "toughen up" and "man up." The words may be "toughen up" but what the child may hear is that he is not strong enough, and the young man who is told to "man up" hears that he is being a wimp.

What isn't said:
  • Tears. Tiredness. Depression. Anger. Drop in grades. 
  • Subtle, yet dangerous control over a student. This may be exhibited in proximity--a tool often used by a teacher--but if done incorrectly becomes threatening. In some schools, where it is still allowed, a "hug" that is designed to control the student more than reassure or encourage, may be a form of bullying. Especially if the "hug" is painful! No adult should ever leave finger imprints on your child!

Listening involves more than just hearing words.

Pay Attention. How does the teacher interact with your child--at conferences, in the classroom, after school? Get involved in your child's school. How does the teacher interact with you? Does his words and actions match.

Ask Questions! Make sure your child knows you are willing to listen. Do not dismiss concerns out of hand. Look for patterns, and ask more questions.

Have you heard of a teacher who bullies? Or a student who has been bullied by a teacher?

*Read the entire WebMD article here: "The problem of teachers bullying students is more common than you think. Learn how to prevent your child from becoming a victim." by Katherine Kam

1 comment:

Science Geek said...

Bullying is a hard thing to deal with, but it is that much more heinous when it is perpetrated by a person in a position of authority and trust.