When Parents Bully TeachersBy
Teachers who lose control of their classrooms usually do so because of the behavior of one or two students. Many times, the parents of these students have the ability to instill fear and intimidation into the teacher and in their own way bully the teacher. This scenario is all too familiar.
A student who is a bully gets reported by the victim to the teacher. The teacher doesn’t see the bullying, but is concerned about the report and believes it warrants a phone call home. The teacher calls home and is immediately put on the defensive by the parent. The parent begins to react to the teacher’s phone call and asks the following questions: Did you actually see my child bully someone else? Are you calling my son/daughter a liar? How do you know it was my child? Or, what did the other kid do to my son or daughter?
After the teacher catches his/her breathe and tries to respond, the parent then starts with comments such as these: I heard your entire class is out of control. My son/daughter has told me that you don’t like him/her. My child told me that he was bullied last week, and you did nothing about it. The parent then ends the conversation by saying the following: Unless you have some proof that my child bullied another student, don’t call me again, and then the parent hangs up. The next day the child comes to school and has more clout than before and continues the bullying behavior. The level of intimidation and fear starts to well up in the teacher, who now wonders what to do if there is another report from a victim that bullying is occurring again (by the same bully as before). This is a serious problem.
What usually does happen is the teacher does everything to avoid making that next phone call to the parent of the bully and begins to ignore the bully, including any bullying behaviors, and starts to surrender the authority in the classroom to the bully. Victims who are in this classroom have to sink or swim on their own and go to school everyday filled with fear.
Amazingly, the teacher starts to see the victim as the problem. If the victim says that he or she is being bullied, the teacher says, “Stop being such a tattletale, go back to your seat.” What’s even worse is that the teacher disciplines everyone else in the classroom, but not the bully. The rest of the class begins to see the teacher as siding with the bully, and the teacher appears to be agreeing with the bullying behavior. Everyone looses.
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