Last time, I discussed the issue of teachers bullying students in my post Some teachers are bullies too . There, I suggested some reasons why teachers resort to bullying, how bullying affects the teachers who bully, how bullying affects the students who get bullied and how bullying affects the entire school environment. I also suggested what needs to be done to stop the bullying. Today, I’m going to examine the issue of students bullying teachers and make some suggestions on how to stop it.
I hear and see students bullying teachers almost everyday. Over the years, students have tried to bully me too. I’ve had my classes disrupted with repeated disrespectful behaviour. I’ve had cars vandalized by students keying them. I’ve had personal property stolen from my office and classroom on numerous occasions, and I’ve had so much verbal abuse hurled at me I’ve lost track of the number of times that happened. Fortunately I haven’t been physically attacked, although I’ve had students try to intimidate me. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation reports that seven percent of its members have been attacked by students. I’ll talk more about the report later.
Ironically, the incidences of student bullying behaviour happened to me while teaching classes in regular high schools, not when I taught classes in the closed custody institution better know as jail. It’s hard to believe it is easier and safer to teach in jail than it is to teach in regular schools.Teaching kids in jail sounds so much scarier than teaching kids in a neighborhood school, but believe me it’s not. I don’t want our schools to turn into jails to make them a safe place to teach.
Happy-Slapping. Have you ever heard of that term? I hadn’t until recently. ‘Happy slapping’ is nothing to do with being happy. It’s a form of bullying where people are attacked and the attack is filmed on a mobile camera phone. Attackers often share the videos with their friends. Students are happy-slapping teachers. This is how it works. Students will do something that they know will absolutely drive the teacher crazy, and then will film the teacher’s embarrassing reaction using the camera on a cell phone and then suddenly before you know it the whole incident it on YouTube for the world to see and judge. Now before we judge teachers who loose it too harshly, we should remember we’ve all had our own embarrassing moments and certainly wouldn’t want an audience of millions to witness them. .We’ve all had times when we haven’t been at the top of our game on a given day for any number of reasons. I’ve heard kids talking and laughing about pushing a teacher’s buttons and sitting back and enjoying the show.
I talked before about cyber-bullying in my post called Schools need to do more to protect students from road rage on the digital highway. In that post I discuss the incident where students got into serious trouble for the abusive things they said on-line about their vice-principal. Kids need to realize that they can’t just say anything they want. Even if they say it on their computer at home. Freedom of speech is governed by the laws of libel and slander. Students just can’t say anything they want.
Another way that kids bully teachers is to comment about them them on the Rate My Teacher site. Kids can go there and write anything they want about teachers . That’s scary. Reputations can be ruined, and there isn’t much that can be done because it’s anonymous. so. Supposedly, it is possible to remove any comments teachers find offensive, but people have said that it has taken up to three weeks to do so. In the mean time the malicious comments are there for anyone to read. What if teachers aren’t aware of what was said about them on the site. They wouldn’t even know to remove the comments. It’s not good. As you can imagine, many schools have blocked the Rate my Teacher site, but kids can still access it from home. It’s been argued that the site damages trust between teachers and students
When you are facing a class five times a day, with 30 children at a time, and you don’t know who actually has written these things, you become far more guarded in everything you do . And the bottom line iyou lose all trust in the students you’ve got sitting in front of you.
I’ve been looking at some of ways students bully teachers. I guess the next question could be: how often does this happen? Earlier, I said that I see and hear teachers being bullied almost everyday. Now, I’d like to give you a more accurate picture of the bullying problem by sharing with you some of the report on Bullying in the Work Place that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation or OSSTF conducted. “Oh no,” I can hear some of you thinking “she’s going to share a report”. Don’t worry. I’m not going to bore you to death. I’m just going to share enough of the report to make my point about students bullying teachers. If you want to read the entire 32 page report, you can go on-line and do so.
The report of July 2005 noted that
36% percent of teachers have been bullied by students. 36% of teachers have been bullied by students. Wow, that’s a lot of teachers. Think about that the next time you talk to a teacher. Think of what teachers have to contend with. Now, who do you think students target most for bullying- is it female teachers or male teachers, part-time teachers or full-time teachers? I guessed wrong when it came to gender. Here’s the breakdown:
Part-time teachers (61 %)
Full-time teachers (34%)
Support staff (30%).
Before I read this report, I always thought that male teachers had it easier than female teachers. Why? Because they’re guys. You know, an automatic authority figure. I can’t believe I said that! That’s stereotyping. I just realized that as I said it. Wow, I’ll have to watch that. Now, I wasn’t surprised that part-time teachers were more likely to get bullied. Kids seem to think that part-time teachers or substitute teachers are fair game for bullying.
I’ve been quoting statistics from the Ontario Secondary School Teacher Federation’s report mainly because I am a member of this Federation, and also I teach in a secondary school in Ontario. In doing research for this article I learned that teacher bullying occurs in many other countries. For example, here’s a report about bullying from London It’s really very sad.
Aggrey Suit, a fifty-year-old teacher was bullied so badly by pupils in his class that he was scared to teach.
Mr Suit taught computer studies at a secondary school in London
I sometimes cried when I was on my own. I felt I’d let down my community. I wanted to do well and teach kids.”
Mr Suit has now left the school but the experience has left a lasting impression and he has given up teaching.
Bullying’s not a game. It is something that can destroy people’s lives and it can destroy adults’ lives just like it does children. We teachers suffer just like children do.
Yes, teachers who are bullied do suffer. According to the OSSTF report
10 percent of those who have been bullied take time away from work.
53 percent of bullied individuals report that they suffered psychological, health related or other personal impacts as a result of the bullying-most often irritability, loss of sleep or loss of self-confidence, but sometimes severe anxiety attacks, loss of appetite, diagnosed depression or increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other substances.
We’ve looked at what happens to teachers who are bullied. What’s happens to the students who bully them? School boards have anti-bullying policies that make it very clear that bullying will not be tolerated. That includes cyber-bullying. There are also libel and slander laws that protect teachers and laws against physical attacks and vandalism. Teachers can sue students and their parent’s for damages. Perhaps that is what it will take to stop bullying. The in school consequences for bullying that range from warnings to detentions to suspensions and even expulsions. The OSSTF Report notes that 36% of teachers who were bullied said that the students were suspended from school as a consequence of their bullying. I’m going to talk next time about can be done to help bullies. There’s a lot that can be done. At least that’s the way I see it.
Here are links to other articles I wrote on the topic. I hope they are helpful.
Bullying is a cry for help. We’d better listen.“>Bullying is a cry for help. We’d better listen
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