Teachers Who Bully
The problem of teachers bullying students is more common than you think. Learn how to prevent your child from becoming a victim.
A Parent's Dilemma continued...
Like many parents who have had mostly positive relationships with teachers, Jan believed her son was overreacting. "We got into arguments at dinner. I told him, 'Just stop it.' It affected his mood and it affected our relationship."
Before long, Jan herself saw signs of the teacher's outbursts. One day, he phoned her during a choir rehearsal. "He said, 'Your son is ruining this,'" Jan recalls. "I'm ready to kill my son. I'm driving there, and I'm ready to tell him he's grounded. When I got there, the teacher said, 'Oh, it's fine.'
"He was already over it."
The clincher came when Jan visited another family with a daughter in the choir. Jan was shocked when the girl said, "Oh, yeah, he totally picks on your son."
Why didn't Jan approach the teacher or principal? "I didn't expect anything to come out of it. Everyone turned their heads because this teacher was so talented."
Besides, the teacher was the gatekeeper for coveted choir trips. Jan worried, too, that he would bad-mouth her son to other teachers. "The teacher lunchroom, that's where people talk about kids. So for the next four years, you've poisoned them."
Jan concluded that the teacher was brilliant but volatile, and she's unsure why was her son was a "lightning rod," she says. Maybe it was a personality clash, she adds, because her younger daughter had no problems in his class.
Why Do Teachers Bully?
Teachers are human, and it's unfair to expect them never to utter a hurtful word.
But teachers do bully for various reasons, experts tell WebMD. A student may remind them of someone they dislike. Or, in a surprising reversal of the "teacher's pet" syndrome, insecure teachers may bully bright students out of envy.
Other teachers suffer from personal problems -- job burnout, marital woes, or severe behavior problems with their own children -- and they take out their frustrations in class.
Furthermore, in some troubled schools, students bully teachers -- and teachers dish it back to avoid appearing weak. "Teachers are often physically scared of students," Twemlow says.