The Most Overlooked Bullies in School
Bully-proofing has become a hot topic in todays schools. In schools across America, students are
being educated on what to do when a student is bullying another student. But what if the bully is not a student? What if the bully is actually a teacher?
Bullying takes on many forms, not always physical, but emotional. Teachers don’t always realize it, but the way they treat a student in the classroom sends a message to their students. If a teacher berates a student in front of their peers, the peers in turn deem it appropriate to berate that student. The student believes it is okay to pick on this student because the teacher does.
This is not a new phenomenon. The kid sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap has been portrayed for many years by many artist. This is a classic example of how a teacher may bully a student. It’s indirect bullying, but nonetheless still bullying. Humiliating another person is bullying. The following are a few examples of how teachers bully students and the effect.
Let’s say a teacher has a student who is a real handful. The child is constantly disrupting the class and annoying the teacher. This child is labeled as a “trouble maker”, and all the kids know it. A more likable child in the classroom may provoke the “trouble maker”, causing the “trouble maker” to react. Although the less offensive student may have caused the problem, the teacher will take the side of the “good student”, and as a result, the “trouble maker” is blamed for the incident and punished.
The “good student” has learned not only is it okay to bully the “trouble maker”, but also that they can control the teacher, which is actually the aim of any bully, to control. As a result, the “trouble maker”, withdraws more, refusing to cooperate in the class, feeling that no matter what they do, right or wrong, they will be blamed and punished.
Another example is that of the unfocused child, or “daydreamer”. A child in the classroom that daydreams, doesn’t get what’s going on, or can’t seem to follow instructions. Perhaps this child suffers from a learning disability, A.D.D., or some form of abuse at home. This is probably one of the most frustrating situations for a teacher. The teacher is constantly embarrassing the “daydreamer”, by pointing out their weakness to the rest of the class. The other children will pick on this child, because they are labeled as different. These children are made are made to feel stupid because of their failure to achieve. Chances are that these children are one of the primary targets of bullies because of their inability to retaliate.
Teachers are aware of the students weakness, but should deal with this child on a one on one basis. Humiliating this child in front of of their peers only leads to more withdrawal from the student, and more bullying from their peers.
When a child comes to school and bullies the other children, we naturally assume that child is retaliating against an unstable home life. How quick we are to blame the parents, but the truth is children learn behavior from all their role models. Teachers are one of societies most powerful role models.
A teacher cannot undo years of damage done to a child, either inside or outside the school. However, teachers can choose not to add to the problem. There are many excellent teachers out there that are fair, unbiased, and positive role models. Unfortunately, there are also many who think humiliating a student in front of their peers is somehow an effective means of discipline. In reality, this behavior only teaches our kids that if someone is different it’s okay to pick on them.
I do not know if there is a solution to this problem. All I know is that there is a problem and it needs to be addressed. A teacher can be a great influence on their students and in a perfect world there would be no bullies. Our educators help lay the foundation for life long success or failure. It’s a great responsibility, and one that those who choose to teach should consider carefully.