Bullying has been front and center in the public arena for some time now. In recent years, schools have promoted a zero tolerance for schoolyard bullying. Guidelines and resources are more readily available to cope with the workplace bully, as well as for cyber bullying that happens on the computer superhighway.
I had a teacher who was a bully. I was in the 10th grade and she made my life miserable. She was my Spanish teacher, and all year long she picked on me, calling on me to answer impossible questions, throwing me out of the class for making noise and even accusing me of cheating on the Regents exam. Luckily, I had a reputation as being a very quiet student, never getting into any trouble or mischief. I hardly spoke in class and was painfully shy. Administrators responsible for overseeing my “discipline” knew there was a bullying situation going on. Unfortunately, there were two choices. Either drop Spanish and not graduate or stay in the class, since there were no other Spanish classes to transfer into. The lesser of two evils was to stay in the class. And though I had support from my parents and from my friends, the teacher’s bullying was traumatic for me. I was young and ill-equipped to deal with the humiliation and accusations. Like a deer in headlights, I just stood there, helpless.
If your child is being bullied by a teacher, here are some ways to combat the abuse.
1) Listen attentively to your child when he or she talks about the bullying. Your child’s emotional expression is an important aspect of healing. Ask for details, but don’t push too hard.
3) Some children will be happy for you to intervene, while others may become terrified of your involvement. Support and comfort your child but also educate him or her that you cannot let this hurtful behavior continue.
4) Inform your child that you'll be speaking with the teacher to open up a dialogue about the situation. This is about problem solving - and doing so will teach your child how to negotiate difficult situations in the future.
5) When confronting the teacher, remember that poise and strength count. Resist falling into the gutter with the teacher-bully. Sinking to that level will hurt your position should you need to go further with this issue.
6) Leave a hard-copy or email paper trail of all your conversations with the teacher. If things continue to be abusive for your child, don’t wait. Immediately involve the school administration and support staff.
7) If the bullying hasn't stopped, and there's been no other accommodations made for your child at the school building level, contact the Superintendent and notify your school board.
8) Consider a school transfer if you cannot find success from any of these strategies.
9) Don’t hesitate to file a complaint to the state licensing board.
10) Consider professional help for your child if the bullying causes significant distress.