Is Your Teen Being Bullied By His Teacher?

Though we would all like to end bullying in schools, the problem persists. Suppose it is not peers who are troubling your teen, but teachers who have crossed the line. How can you help your child?

By Sabah Batul

Is Your Teen Being Bullied By His Teacher?

As your child steps into teenage, he begins to explore and experiment, and form relationships with those around him. Of all these relationships, one of the most important associations he forms is the one with his teacher. And, that usually has a favourable outcome, unless the teacher, instead of being a guide and a giver of knowledge, turns out to be a bully and a source of fear.

When it comes to bullying in schools, most of us think that it is usually students, especially teens, who indulge in it. So, we tell our child to seek the help of teachers. However, it never crosses our mind that the tendency to bully isn't limited only to students, some teachers too can tease or trouble students. 

Also, what will you do when you find out that your child is being bullied by his teacher? Here is how teachers can make things difficult, in a classroom: 

Common ways teachers bully students

  • Humiliating
  • Intimidating
  • Criticising excessively
  • Ignoring
  • Voicing comments that are personal in nature
  • Rejecting assignments

Why a teacher may turn into a bully

  • A teacher has power and authority over students. Sometimes, the teacher may be tempted to abuse this power.
  • In our culture, we teach children to 'Not question the authority of teachers' and 'Always respect elders'. As a result, most teens don't speak up against abuse and hence, present themselves as easy targets for a teacher.
  • A teacher may feel encouraged to bully students when the school doesn't prevent him from indulging in bullying or, takes no action despite complaints.
  • A teacher may inadvertently turn into a bully if his teachers too were bullies.

Is your teen being bullied?

Teenage is a challenging time for parents and adolescents, alike. But, you cannot help your teen unless and until you become aware that she needs your help. So, how will you know that your child is being bullied? 

To understand that your teen is facing issues related to bullying, you need to know the warning signs. Here are a few red flags to be aware of, if your teen is being bullied in school:

  • Acts out: It’s a teen's discreet way telling everyone that something is wrong and she needs help right away. So, observe your teen to find out if she has been acting out lately. Talk to her and try to understand why she has been losing her cool so often of late.
  • Wants to be left alone: Teens naturally desire freedom and solitude and are usually very possessive of their privacy. But, is your teen is being too distant from you and her friends? If so, then, it’s a reason for concern.
  • Is reluctant to go to school: Teens usually love going to school, except once in a while when they may want a day off. However, if your teen is reluctant to go to school, which is a new development or, is making excuses to stay away from school, there is probably an underlying reason. Try to find out if there is a pattern to her not wanting to go to school. For example, does your teen want to miss school every Tuesday? If you find such a pattern, then probe the matter further.
  • Changes her routine: Children make minor changes in routine as they grow. But, if your teen's routine has undergone a drastic change, then it's a signal that something is wrong. Remember, teens are accustomed to a routine and any such change is a cause for concern. 

Addressing the situation

  • Express your love and trust: It is important to reassure your teen. Make him understand that you love him and support him through his struggles. This will help him feel safe and secure.
  • Erase the embarrassment: Individuals who bully use public humiliation as a tool. This makes the bullied person feel embarrassed. It is probably the reason your teen has not brought the matter to your notice. Tell your teen that personal remarks against him don't reflect the type of individual he is. So, he shouldn't feel ashamed or embarrassed.
  • Provide encouragement: Being hounded by a bully every day can be extremely demotivating. So, it’s time you told your teen that he is special. Remind him of his strengths and encourage him to face adversity with courage.  
  • Have a conversation: Discuss the situation with your child. Try to understand what is happening and what your child can do to prevent further harassment. For example, can he speak with the principal or should you step in and talk to the school authorities? 

Now, it’s time for some hands-on parenting!

  • Speak to the school authorities and submit a written complaint. Keep a copy of the complaint and emails you've exchanged with them.
  • Have the school authorities convene a meeting between you and the teacher who bullied your teen.
  • Make a note of the events that have occurred and keep a record of all details. Speak to other students in an effort to gather evidence. You might need proof!
  • Speak to other parents, spread awareness. Help them understand how grave the situation becomes when a teacher engages in bullying
  • Follow-up with the school authorities to ensure action is taken against the perpetrator.
  • Check how your teen is dealing with everything after the teacher’s actions have been brought to light. Is he still being bullied?

It’s not easy, but you can handle it — together!

Your teen is impressionable and young. At this vulnerable period, being bullied by a teacher can be very stressful. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to support and stand with your teen, especially during such difficult times. Doing so, will strengthen the parent-child bond and reassure your teen that you will always be there for her. 

Sabah Batul volunteers at NGOs, as she believes in being the change she wants to see.

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