June 22nd, 2012
05:50 PM ET

Educators: Kids aren't the only ones bullied

By Hannah Weinberger, Special to CNN

(CNN) - People around the world were shocked and horrified by a viral video that showed Karen Klein, a 68-year-old public school bus monitor, desperately trying to ignore malicious verbal jabs by a group of middle schoolers on her own bus.

For most, it was extreme. For many educators and school staff members, it's no surprise.  School workers said it’s a regular aspect of their daily lives.

“I’ve had erasers thrown at me, among other things, but these are things that teachers go through,” said Rosalind Wiseman, author of the bestseller “Queen Bees and Wannabes.”

“When these types of things come up, there’s all of this attention. But most teachers have at least had one student call them a bad name under their breath."

While bullying among students has dominated conversations in school, homes and in the media, kids bullying adults at school is a topic rarely discussed. What some call misbehavior, pranks or insubordination can be bullying, too, educators said. Kids can act threateningly and create a hostile environment inside the limitations of the law, said educator and author  David M. Hall, who often leads anti-bullying workshops - and school workers might never report it.

“Schools often forget about the adults,” said Jessie Klein, author of “The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying America’s Schools." “People are so resigned to it. It’s almost invisible - it’s just the way things are. Kids can’t imagine what a school would look like without bullying, so teachers are resigned to it, too.”

Severe incidents, such as shootings, become part of police statistics. But there aren’t many numbers about kids bullying adults, according to Tom Lansworth, media affairs specialist for the American Federation of Teachers. Most school districts aren’t required to track incidents, he said. The Canadian Teachers Federation conducted a study in 2005 that found one-third of teachers in Ontario had been bullied by students. Part-time teachers and those without regular grade assignments were most likely to experience bullying, the study found.

Your take: What would you do with a mean kid?

Some educators said bullying incidents aren’t taken seriously by administrators, and school workers without unions might be discouraged from acting. Educators might be discouraged from reporting bullying because it could hurt the image of the school, or make them appear ineffective in their jobs, teachers said.

“I think it’s very difficult for teachers to report to their administrators that their kids are being disrespectful,” said Wiseman, who is also a parent educator. “It’s shameful for teachers to admit that, because you’re admitting that you don’t have any control over the kids. It’s embarrassing.”

Teachers CNN talked with shared stories ranging from thrown erasers to verbal threats. Students are known to key teachers’ cars or deflate their tires, said Lansworth, the American Federation of Teachers spokesman. He's heard about students who steal teachers’ property; cyber-bully teachers by creating fake Facebook pages or postings; push teachers to snap, and capture teachers’ responses on camera.

“We’re supposed to be strong,” said teacher Hall. “It’s the same embarrassment that kids feel.”

Just as students can create hostile environments for each other, they can do the same toward teachers, school janitors or cafeteria staff, Hall said. He said he worked with a Jewish teacher who felt intimidated by a student who professed to be a neo-Nazi. The student, he said, would insist on reading Adolf Hitler's “Mein Kampf” in the teacher’s study hall periods.

“A kid may not be doing anything he can’t do, but he’s using his rights to extend intimidation against a teacher,” Hall said.

High school students develop app to fight bullying

Outside the view of principals and parents, workers who aren’t perceived to have power in school communities – bus monitors, for example – are often targets, educators said.

“If there are children who feel empowered to abuse somebody that they see as weaker, then it can happen that those children would go after an adult, especially someone that they see as someone without any authority,” Wiseman said.

Some educators said bullying is a matter of perspective; they draw a line between bad behavior and bullying at different points.

Elizabeth Jordan, a middle school teacher from California, said it’s important to remember that kids have their own struggles, too – few coping tools, rapidly changing bodies and bullies of their own.

“It’s just sort of an epidemic of the age that I teach, that the kids can be very angry,” Jordan said. “You’re going to find that the common thought everywhere is that they should get shipped out to an island for three years and they’ll come back as normal human beings. But you have to have a certain attitude when you teach middle school. I try to keep a sense of humor.”

When children cross “lines of respect” with peers and teachers at early ages, it’s misbehavior, said Ana Messinger, a fourth-grade teacher from South Carolina. As they get older, students figure out what they can and cannot get away with – and who will tolerate such behavior.

“When it becomes consistently directed at another, it’s bullying,” Messinger said. “I have seen incidences that have crossed the line of respect, of empathy for other people, absolutely.”

Messinger said it’s important for everyone in a school, not just the administration, to be vigilant in this regard.

“Student-on-student, student-on-teacher, teacher-on-student bullying? They each feed each other," she said. “Teachers need to be diligent about documentation and communication with parents and children and within school buildings so that everybody is on the same page, so that when those lines are crossed we can respond appropriately and swiftly. Otherwise, the administration is just going on the teachers’ words.”

Thousands of schools, including Messinger's, are adapting programs like Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, which works to improve learning environments and reward positive behavior. The program isn't perfect, she said - a lack of negative consequences leaves boundaries incompletely defined, and it focuses on bullying between students. But the program has helped to shape a curriculum that highlights respect, effort, attitude, cooperation and honesty, she said.

Messinger said that programs focusing on respectful interaction can help "reteach" not just students about how to handle bullying interactions, but teachers as well.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” she said. “There’s no one culprit to this. I can’t say it’s so-and-so’s fault. It’s in society – it’s in the house, it’s on TV, it’s in the playground. It’s adult-on-adult bullying that they’re watching. We’ve lost, as a society, our decorum when we talk to one another.”

The worst thing an adult being bullied can do is pretend it’s not happening and go into denial, Wiseman said.

“Ignoring comes across as if she cannot handle it, to those kids. And so it empowers them to continue,” said Wiseman, referencing Karen Klein.

Rather than “writing a student up” or “reporting to the principal,” Wiseman suggests a clear, respectful reaction: Recognize students’ actions are inappropriate and shocking, but don’t appear to be weakened or negatively affected. It’s about maintaining the student-teacher dynamic.

“They wait to see what you’re going to do,” she said. “Before it escalates, you have one shot across the bough.”

“You have to be like, ‘Wait, you’re actually calling me a b**** right now? I’m coming at you with respect, and I’m absolutely expecting that I get that back. I can’t force you, but I expect the same in return.’”

Don’t expect the students to agree, or even apologize; what’s most important, educators said, is that they recognize adults who stand their ground.

“I usually look at them, like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’” said Jordan, the California middle school teacher. “Like, are you really doing that? Perhaps it’s because I’ve been teaching for 13 years, but I’ve found that if you establish the rules in the classroom and you have good procedures, you generally don’t run into this.”

“Bully Society” author Jessie Klein said students have to feel like they have authority. She suggests “town hall” style meetings, run by students, where the whole school gathers to discuss issues.

“Instead of a school being a place of community, there’s a sense that you have to handle it on your own, teacher or student, or you’ll be perceived as weak," Jessie Klein said. "Students should own the values in their schools, the values that you care about.”

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  1. FifthGrade

    Thank GOD someone wrote this article. I have been wondering if I was the crazy one - this behavior happens all the time in schools. Seventh grade boys are already emotionally unsteady, and when they join together, bad behavior will inevitably show. I simply can't believe this woman got so much money from donations. I don't begrudge her, but I was shocked to see that most of the country did not know this stuff happens every day. And, yes, good kids do it, too. And yes, your kids do it, too.

    June 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  2. Scott

    Parents are the ROOT of the student bullying problem. Children's uprising is the responsibility of parents. Back in the old days parents had the final saying, discipline children with firmness and requiring respect. Children who learned to respect authority or elders often have soft heart and try to avoid the society or groups that seems to be violent.

    If I were the father of that son, I would MAKE him apologize in public, not me. After making him to apologize I would follow up with strict discipline and heartily agree to the year-long suspension. It is ALSO very important that we, as parents, show our love and care towards them at the same time and spend more of our times with them than for ourselves, it is investing into our families. Teaching them to love one other, to encourage one other and to guide one other as well.

    I am sure that fathers and mothers of those suspended children are deeply heart broken. I know it is a lesson hard learned after what happened. I just hope that they will change, to discipline children to guide them on what is right and what is wrong and to become sensitive to these parts. They all are in my prayers. To those who are those children's parents, hang in there and raise them up well. All parent should too, including myself.

    June 30, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Elem teacher

      Thank you Scott! You would be surprised how often a teacher calls home to tell the parents how their child misbehaved at school, and the parents tell the teacher that it isn't their problem. It WILL be their problem when the kid is in jail at 16 because they don't accept responsibility for their child. I tell my students "There is a set of rules for home, and a set of rules for school. Right now, you're in school, act like it!"

      June 30, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • motionlessinpink

      Thank-you.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  3. Catha

    I hate to say it but I was one who bullied one of my teachers. it wasn't bad stuff, just picking on her about her age (though she actually was young), and it wasn't just me. I went along with the instigators. Now that I realize what it truly was, I feel sorry, and if I could, I would apologize. I never really meant to hurt her. I actually liked her. She was sweet. I truly wish I could take it all back.

    June 30, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  4. Bteacher

    I've taught kindergarten for 9 years. Every year I have a least one emotionally disturbed student–one year I had 6. Public schools have no way to deal with an emotionally disturbed student–Every year, I see ED student continue to get worse and worse. ED students create havoc even in the best teacher's classrooms. They attack other student, adults constantly. 90% of the time the parents of an ED student have issues too, so talking to the parents usually makes things worse. To make matters worse, most principals ignore laws that deal with expulsion and removal of disruptive student, so teachers have to deal with these ED students on our own. Imagine trying to teach reading while one student is shouting, screaming or having some sort of fit–it's not fun but teachers do it every day. Many public school teachers move to private school because private schools remove disruptive students–Public schools let disruptive students create havoc and ruin education. If you want public schools to be successful allow teachers to remove disruptive students and fund interventions for emotionally disturbed students.

    June 30, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • john

      You are so right. I have also taught high school students science for many years and have seen the same things you're describing so many times. Discipline, correction, call it what you want but it is missing in the lives of so many adults and their families and hence the schools too. Without it the nation itself will be eventually become dysfunctional.

      June 30, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  5. shawn l

    This is what happens when they mandate every kid has to go to school. Kids that dont want to be there end up ruining the experience for everyone around them.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • john

      Right on bro.

      June 30, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  6. brookingstyler

    See the behavior of a few sweethearts who didn't want to work at the end of the year and turned it back on the teacher.

    http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=712745033007801040#editor/target=post;postID=471382293890999893

    June 29, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  7. sfteacher

    wow. people wonder why our schools are suffering, and the easy answer seems to be the teaching. and yet, here many of you are, ignorantly explaining to hard-working educators, that they need to spend more time "managing" and "controlling". until anyone on this strand of comments has stepped into the shoes of professionals working in public education, i suggest you refrain from your sweeping generalizations, especially when it comes to disrespectful students. i am a GOOD teacher, but the amount of time and money and emotional energy that i put into this job does not deserve this kind of public response. shame on you. how easy it is to ignore the many "factors" involved in creating this kind of disrespect. until you are part of the solution, i'm tired of hearing you talk about the problem.

    June 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  8. WRG001

    Just a thought...and what was done to her was reprehensible, but I was wondering what exactly her role on the bus was/is? A bus monitor? Does she merely observe and report? Is she supposed to deter aggressive, unsafe or inappropriate behavior? If her role is to promote good and safe conduct, then she failed. This is not a mark against her as a person, but if this is her role, then she is clearly not appropriate for the job.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • pamblizzard

      You need to read some of the other post here. The adults that work in today’s schools are so restricted in what they are allowed to do when dealing with children who cause problems. Oh, we can suspend them but that just allows the student to have a day off. We can use in-school suspension, but for some students this is like a sign of power. I’ve even heard students (7th graders) discuss the merits of going to prison! Yes, there are some students who do respect the adults and who do respond to verbal reprimands. These students actually get into trouble when their parents are notified about the offending behavior. Unfortunately, there are way too many kids whose parents never hear about the reprimand, or simply don’t care, don’t have time, or don’t believe their child could possibly be as “bad” as they’re being told. So, what was the bus monitor supposed to do? Take them off the bus and make them wait on the side of the street till their parents could come pick them up? Make them sit on the floor of the bus? Tape their mouths shut? What could she have done that wouldn’t have potentially cost her her job?

      June 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
      • Alexander Rogge

        "So, what was the bus monitor supposed to do? What could she have done that wouldn’t have potentially cost her her job?"

        In view of threats from school administrators or fear of a lawsuit from parents, the one option that she should have seen was to get up and move to another seat. Then get some headphones and block out the bullies until they actually commit a crime. That's what I would have done, and have done in similar situations. I probably wouldn't have been able to do anything to those students because they weren't clearly breaking the law. Once the punches are thrown or property is stolen or damaged, however, that's when the self-serving school administrators can stuff it up their fat, taxpayer-funded behinds. I know, they'll threaten the monitor for reporting an assault, but it doesn't matter because there would be evidence instead of hearsay, and that's good enough for a court and the media. The textbook that one bully pushed at her arm wasn't really an assault, and I had much worse done to me in middle school.

        I think that the public is being much too sympathetic towards this bus monitor, while teen victims of bullying who ended up with years of verbal and physical abuse are pushed aside. The bigger question is why she was unable to stand up for herself, and make those teen bullies sit down properly and be quiet. If she's prevented from doing that by external threats, then she may as well act like a student and joyride back and forth. When I ride, unconstrained by school administration because I don't work for them, I don't seem to have a problem with bullying, and I love the back of the bus. Schoolbus contractors are much nicer to work for because they don't necessarily answer to the school district unless someone allowed such terms to be added to the contract. Young students are treated just like adults, the safety rules are the same for everyone, and there's no such thing as a parent conference over bus behavior. If the behavior isn't illegal or otherwise reportable under the law, there's no reason to say anything about it. If it is illegal, the bus company can do something about it, but it does so because the behavior makes the bus ride unsafe under DOT regulations. Teachers or chaperons who stand up on a moving bus to yell and try to make students follow school rules that don't agree with the law can be told to sit down and shut up. The bus driver and the company makes the decisions, not the school bureaucrats with their silly rules. There are also bad companies to work for because they did allow administrators to have a say in bus safety and operations, and they're the worst for efficiency and safety.

        I wish that I could have a fraction of what this bus monitor has earned from donations. I have bullying stories related to abusers of all ages, and the worst bullies were the school administrators who made me the problem for reporting the bullying problem. If only kids had had cell phones with video cameras back then, I could have gone viral too.

        June 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • D

      I don't know that ANYONE could have controlled the children on that bus. Maybe you should watch the video again. Those kids were heartless – and the mouths on them were unbelievable. Where does a middle-schooler learn to talk like that?

      June 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
      • Fff

        Certain adult figures in their life! But seriously.. A bus monitor? Waste of moneyyyyyyy. Let the damn kids get on the bus themselves.

        June 28, 2012 at 12:28 am |
      • APB

        Primary soucre to learn that rhetoric is from listening to hard core rap.

        June 28, 2012 at 7:52 am |
      • Where do they learn?

        D...they learn to talk like that at home.

        June 30, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • ImpishLisa

      Behavior like that isn't all of a sudden. I guarantee those little rats were doing that a long time. I am sure she reported them. I am sure she told the driver. Way to try and turn it on her. Of course, don't hold the wrong doer responsible, punish the victim. Pfft. I hope Karma has a lesson in store for you. One where you aren't allowed to react to what is done and all YOU can do is sit there and take it.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  9. pamblizzard

    Has our society created budding monsters? I have worked in schools for most of my adult career in both a support and teaching position. I love working with kids, especially middle school students. Unfortunately working full time as a teacher created so much stress for so little compensation that even my husband suggested I quit. Oh, and by compensation I’m not talking about my salary; instead, I’m talking about the growing number of students who believe that they shouldn’t have to work for anything. I honestly believe that some kids grow up believing the hype some parents (and many TV shows) preach; that they’re perfect just the way they are; that respect is a given, not something to strive for; that success is a gift, not a goal; and so much more in our efforts to ensure our children have a high self-esteem. Added to all that is the student’s idea that they have a “right” to be what they want to be, not “all” they can be. If rules stifle they’re creativity then they must be unfair. If expectations don’t mesh with their idea of success then they’re not worth striving for. All of this leads to students who not only think that everything should be easy for them, but that other people are less important than they are. Bullying can therefore elevate their status and add to their feeling of success and power. Hopefully most will eventually learn that the bullying is a sign of weakness, not strength or success; that their rights do not override everyone else’s; that there is no such thing a perfect human being; that respect is earned; and that feeling good about oneself takes a lot more work than they’ve been lead to believe.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  10. Sikeli

    As a teacher I see bullying every day in the class and the halls. The number one factor is the parents. When I have a parent's support, I have no behavioral issues worth mentioning because the parents have my back. I have sat in assemblies and heard parents coach their children on how to get even with the teacher that got their kid suspended. One dad told his kid not to worry because after he got suspended, they would spend the day riding gocarts. He was surprised to see the police at school when he got called in to get his kid. I have been called every name you can think of. I have had the nastiest rumors spread about me and my friends and family, I have been threatened with beatings and even death, yet I still love teaching. I must be insane.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • John

      Don't be surprised if these bullies later become CEOs and managers and continue with professional bullying of their directs.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
      • john

        It's highly unlikely that kids like these go on to become anything other than trouble. Particularly since society is so impotent when it comes to correcting, disciplining, punishing offensive, destructive behavior. As the twig is bent so grows the branch. Thanks to the video, these kids will be corrected. There's a zillion others that make sport of this type of thing all the time.

        June 30, 2012 at 9:14 am |
      • doodahman

        Good point. A bully with the personality to stay a bully for their entire life is basically a psychopath. However, it is also worth noting that sometimes the victim of bullying who becomes a manager or CEO will have ended up so angry and bitter that they will 'get even' and take it out on their and families and/or employees at work.

        Bullies who stay obvious bullies don't always reach the top of a profession –it depends upon the profession of course – and some of these professions do truly select for them.

        A more pernicious result with regard to bullies are those that do reach higher levels of their profession, who are smart enough to have sublimated their true natures until then. Once they are able, become full-fledged bullying individuals – but only to those of whom they can get away with such tactics. Bullying can come in different shades of expression, and result in a variety of outcomes. I think all of us have seen many of these permutations.

        Bullying at home can produce a kid either having a personality to get through it or a kid that goes after others who they perceive as weaker than them, student or teacher or both. Sometimes bullies seem to be born bullies, again, psychopaths who enjoy going after people, regardless of what goes on at home.

        All this having been said, I challenge anybody who can truthfully say that they have not been a bully of some type sometime during their life. Most of us, I think, truly regret it, unless you are a Romney who can conveniently forget a venal, vicious attack on someone. – , in which I was involved even they were few iand of a it was ‘minor’ (?) nature – depending on whose perception.. and I was a peripheral person to it.

        But I despise bullies, as do most of us. More than once, I stopped them from going after me or their victims. I think most of us have in some way or the other. I have found that most people who stay bullies to the end of the day are cowards. If my folks would have found out I had participated in any kind of a bullying incident, it would have meant my ass, and rightfully so..

        June 30, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  11. Alexander Rogge

    The bullying problem definitely extends beyond the students. The difference is that the effect of bullying is most harmful to a young student than it is to an experienced adult. I'm not about to hang myself over some teen bully's harassment, but at age 13, it was a more dangerous story being made.

    There's bullying not only from students, but teachers against other teachers, school administrators against bus drivers and teachers, parents against teachers, and teachers against parents, and there is also bullying from overpaid bureaucrats from "special" education and other offices that are somehow above the school principal. The abuse works because no one wants to say anything for fear of looking bad, increasing workload, or losing their jobs. A teacher complaining about students can attract a label of "an ineffective teacher who is not able to maintain classroom discipline." There are the physical threats, the verbal intimidation, the fights that the teacher can't break up because the teacher can be sued or fired for touching a student, the blame game when a student does get hurt because the teacher didn't intervene, and the now-constant threat of getting good test scores at any cost. The students aren't the problem, as they are only enabled by the school bureaucracy that supports their bullying. The self-serving administration, the backstabbing teachers who view better teachers as a threat, the frivolous lawsuits from parents, the disconnect between school rules and the real laws, and a general disrespect for the hard work put in by competent teachers is what causes the stress level in the public school environment to become elevated to that of a penitentiary.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  12. Crusade2267

    A teacher friend of mine was teaching 7th grade when, with no warning, a student lifted up a desk and hurled it at him. The student got a slap on the wrist, and my friend got to go look for another job. The schools stance was that my friend should have prevented the student from wanting to hurl the desk.

    Part of the reason that students do these sorts of things is because they know they will get away with it. Teachers are blamed for absolutely everything. They are bullied by students, parents, and administration. When a student sees that a teacher is someone who nobody else respects, they get the message that it is OK to disrespect them. These sorts of things do not happen in other countries where Teachers are still respected.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  13. Tubamansion

    As a teacher I was bullied from my administrations on three occassions. In AZ, after eleven years of successful teaching, my female administration started interviewing women to replace me, when I did not know I was leaving. They then started a write up campaign which was based on lies, they could just make it up, so I left. I moved to Detroit and after nine years of successful teaching, I was bumped, against the teachers contract, and replaced with an African American with one year experience, after I caught my African American administration stealing fund raisng money of my students. I moved back to AZ to teach in an elementary school. I won grants and doubled my enrollment and raised standards at my school. The district ordered me to request tax credit money from parents and when I asked for some to make repairs on instruments, I was told my position was changing from band to general music. My point is this, administrations and school boards who endorse "whim-based" district administrations and then threaten teachers to not enforce bullying and expected behaviors, might contribute to some of what's wrong with education. Why are administration not evaluated and reviewed like teachers.

    June 27, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  14. jlw

    Anyone who wants to teach has to learn to STAND UP FOR ONESELF! I taught for over 30 years and had to model respect and demand respect!
    Teachers sometimes need parents to support them, and sometimes this does not happen.
    Those kids not only do not respect teachers, but they really, really do not respect the parents. And yes talented teachers do leave the profession because of this.
    Still, all this talk about bullying is lacking the important element–STAND UP to bullies. No, do not hit them, just do not tolerate them.
    Are we so a nation of victims that we really expect the "system" to control our personal interactions. Bullies do not bully those who are stronger emotionally, mentally, or physically.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Crusade2267

      But it is much easier to do that if you know that your choice is going to be validated. I teach at a community college in a Learning Community program, where three professors all teach the same students and coordinate our syllabi. One semester, my partners and I began having trouble with 4 students who were talking loudly in 2 of our 3 classes, texting in the middle of class, and generally being disruptive. We individually spoke to them about it, but it didn't get better. When one of the other professors asked one of the students to put her phone away, the student cursed the professor out. By the time they arrived at the other professors class, all 4 of them were being as disruptive as possible. Individually these students were great, but as a group they were trouble. So the three of us decided to have them not sit together in our classes, a basic classroom management technique. When we called them in, only 2 of them came, so we told them what we had to say, and when they left, I said that I would talk to the other two, since they had my class next. When that meeting came, they started screaming at me, and running through the halls shouting how they were unfairly being picked on because of race. (The 3 of us professors were one race, the 4 students were a different race.) I referred them to the dean of students office. She read my report and commented that we had handled it as well as we could, and that several times while reading it she said to herself "Why don't they try this... oh wait, here it is a few lines down..." They brought the students in to the conduct officer and he managed to get through to them that we were not picking on them because of race, we were asking them to behave in a proper manner.

      This situation was very difficult. I pride myself as being an open person, and it was very difficult for me to be shouted at by four students that I was a racist, simply for asking them to behave in my classroom and the classrooms of my colleagues. But the situation was much easier because I knew that my fellow professors had my back, and that the Dean of Students had my back. I know that there are teachers out there who do not work in an environment where the school will have their back if they get bullied. If you are getting bullied by a student, and you know you will be bullied for "not being effective" by an administrator if you report it, you're going to feel even worse.

      I agree with you that the only way to deal with bullies is to confront them. The problem is that there are schools where the bullies are running the place.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  15. Teacher

    In some ways legislatures enable the bullying. Schools and districts have to watch their statistics. Too many suspensions can place them on the "bad schools" list. As a result they might let supposedly minor infractions go. The students pick up on this and behavioral issues escalalte and more serious behavior is allowed to go unchecked. In the meantime, the legilators who hold educators responsible for all of their statistics do not take any responsibility for the statistics for unemployment or violent crime in the same community.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  16. mark plunkett

    Interesting that NO ONE even commented about parents bullying teachers when the teacher "dares" to hold their child accountable, or refuses to tolerate inappropriate behavior in class, or might suggest that their child is not the genius the parents believe him/her to be. I was never bullied by a student, BUT I had several parents attempt to bully me during my 29-year teaching career. The ugliest incident's almost always involved parents who had always gotten their way in the past. It only takes one administrator to draw the line in the sand.

    June 27, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Atlantapeachteach

      You said it perfectly! That is the real problem in schools today, and I am hopeful with the recent "You are not special" graduation speech we may be seeing the pendulum swing in a positive direction. We can dream, right?

      June 27, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • smkyqtzxtl

      Well I am a thirty eight year vet going on thirty nine in education. It has happened to me dozens of times, sadly. Go to parents about a student's disruptive, bad behavior and get bullied by the parents, wth staements like ,"you must have it in for my child, you don't "like" my child , not my child, what consequence did you give the other chil"d ect...It is nauseating. I wish parents would just own it and take care of it at home so we could teach in peace and the est of the students could have some fun..

      June 27, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • brookingstyler

      Tell your story about bullying parents at

      teacherhunt.blogspot.com

      Create an awareness for the detriment this is having on our society.

      June 29, 2012 at 3:52 am |
  17. EngTeacher

    I've been a teacher for nearly 10 years, with equal time in a large urban public school and a small suburban private school. Every day in the public school was a walk through a gauntlet of disrespect and threatening behavior from students. I had to cultivate a persona of being a "hard-a**" just to survive the day - the constant stress took energy and focus away from my teaching. The administration had to focus on larger issues, disarming students (guns & knives were commonplace) and breaking up fights. Teachers were left to fend for themselves - we were not allowed to physically restrain students, though we could put our hands up (no fists) to defend ourselves. I now teach at a private school that takes discipline seriously - students get in so much trouble for disrespectful speech alone that the situation never escalates to physical altercations. Students who bully other students or are repeatedly disrespectful to adults are asked to withdraw from the school. Period. Zero tolerance. Unfortunately the public schools are so underfunded, understaffed, and don't have the luxury of being able to "kick out" students. Until the power is put back into the hands of the school administrations to enforce the highest standard of behavior (i.e. stop the bullying before it starts), bullying of students and teachers will continue to escalate in the public schools.

    June 27, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  18. Neb Teacher

    Much of the issue comes down to respect. Too many students have been fed the lie that they owe no one respect unless they feel the person has earned it. I have seen it happen time and time again – kids who are fed that baloney do not respect any adults (including their parents) and very rarely have any respect for themselves. As old fashioned as it seems, young people need to be taught respect for their elders and for adults in positions of responsibility. It begins at home, continues through elementary school, and is part of high school and adult life.

    Teachers and administrators need to reinforce that expectation of respect with consistency and a firm hand at all levels. While we can be, and often are, strong supporters of our students, we must be the adults much more than we need to be their friends. They may not like it or see the value of it in the short term, but they will appreciate it as time passes.

    June 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  19. 11BGI

    If you're an adult and kids bully you, you're just a punk. All it takes with a kid is an abrasive demeanor and a few harsh show them you're not a doormat; if they get physical grab them and tell them that if it happens again your response will be similiar.

    I know blaming the victim isn't popular, but "victims" can do things to ensure that they aren't victims. It's like complaining that people rob your house when you habitually leave the front door open. Bullies look for certain tendencies that identify victims.

    June 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • AB7

      You I bet are not a teacher or anyone who works in the school system. Most or what you recommend is illigal and unprofessional. Such actions would get the teacher fired. If a teacher acted in such a manner with your angel I am sure you would be the first to file actions against the teacher.

      June 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Jenny

      The way you are speaking about dealing with a kid will et a teacher fired.

      June 27, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • dws

      My wife is a teacher, it always amazes me to see the different responses on how this type of situation should be handeled. My wife has had things thrown at her, she has been cursed, etc. Her administrators do nothing because they don't want to deal with the little angels parents when they come in for a conference. Their little angel would never do that anything like that, It must have been the teacher who instigated it. I have heard it all, well, to all you teachers out there, here is what I did. I had a conference with her administrators and politley told them, if you cannot provide a safe work environment for my spouse, which by law you are required to do, our lawyer will ensure we are compensated. This conference took place three years ago and amazingly the little angels get disciplined now when the behavior gets out of control, such as throwing books kicking over desks etc. My wife just wants to teach, educate the children, she loves her job, does not like administration or some of the parents. The parents scream of injustice to sweet little Suzy or Johnny, administrators don't want to deal with the screaming parents and placate them. Who loses? All the other students in the classroom who act appropriately. If you think this is not happening in your childs classroom, you are sorely mistaken....

      June 27, 2012 at 7:33 am |
      • dorian

        You hit the nail on the head. So few parents and administrators offer support. I a child has on going issues, we are accused of singling out the child. I could go on and on, but you said it for me!

        June 27, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Alexander Rogge

      "If you're an adult and kids bully you, you're just a punk. All it takes with a kid is an abrasive demeanor and a few harsh show them you're not a doormat; if they get physical grab them and tell them that if it happens again your response will be similiar."

      That can work for a normal person on the street, but it doesn't work well for a teacher or bus driver dependent on the school system. A student can say "He touched me!" and you could be finished as a teacher. I was told that district administration will "hold your feet to the fire" and parents can sue the teacher for anything. If you actually get physical with a student, you may never work in a public school again. The bureaucrats will go after your teaching license, take your job, and enable parents to sue for every dollar you've made. If you don't intervene and a student gets hurt, the bureaucrats will likewise go after your teaching license and enable parents to sue for every dollar you've made. There's no easy way to deal with the bullying problem because the taxpayer-funded government bureaucracy enables the continued abuse.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • john

      Totally wrong. So if my house isn't a fortress, it's my fault? Dumb. These kids should have the "board of education" applied to their "seats of knowledge and understanding". My teachers back in the 60's would have made geniuses of them all.

      June 30, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • john

      11bgi, You're Totally wrong. So if my house isn't a fortress, it's my fault? Dumb. These kids should have the "board of education" applied to their "seats of knowledge and understanding". My teachers back in the 60's would have made geniuses of them all.

      June 30, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  20. deborah

    I understand this thing about bullying and of course I am not for it or have ever bullied anyone myself. But I have to say I'm getting a bit tired of all these people claiming they are bullied and harassed. This story about the woman on the school bus bothers me for a few reasons. One, if she was the monitor on this bus why didn't she do something constructive like go and stop the bus driver. Or have him pull the bus over and get in touch with school authorities or for that matter the police. What I'm concerned about is if she was the monitor and she couldn't handle this being done to her, how would she have handled another person or for that fact a child who was being abused or bullied?. I don't see her as a hero as some do. I feel bad for her it must have been embarassing and humiliating and upsetting but for people, total strangers to send her that much money, well to me that is just down right dumb. This woman needed to stand up for herself or stop the bus and get those kids off the bus. If she can't handle at her age stupid teenagers abusing her and calling her names well she should not be given the job of a school bus monitor. I am just fed up with all these stories that make no sense. She now has over 500, 000 dollars for not standing up for herself and others on that bus. Wonder if this kind of thing will spawn others to imitate the same thing just for free money and a story that goes viral.. Just fed up with it all.

    June 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • blisslivmom

      She said in an interview that she felt she would have been fired if she reported the abuse. Read the previous posts about how you are seen as a poor teacher, bus monitor, etc. if you write the student up for behavioral infractions. If the incident wasn't recorded and posted, it is likely the students (four of them) would deny it ever happened. Often note much is done about an incident like this and the students are not deterred by the consequence.

      June 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • wattermelann@msn.com

      She did what was expected of her by the school district. It was mentioned that this was not the first time bullying occurred towards here. Perhaps in the past the bus was stopped. You cannot be confrontive towards kids, only restate expectations and appropriate behavior in a calm manner and I am sure this woman has in the past. Although I am sure you are a very strong person and can take anything-people are different and their tolerance threshold differs from one person to the next. She performed as expected by school policy and the district. If you want to scapegoat someone try the superintendent and the school board for not creating policy to protect employees from bullying.

      June 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Alexander Rogge

      I agree. I'm still waiting for my payoff for being bullied for seven years in middle school and high school. I've faced both verbal intimidation and physical abuse, and I didn't get a single dollar.

      June 27, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • dkatt

      I was a bus monito in Skokie Il for 8 years and I can tell you she utterly failed to exercise any discipline at all. My jaw dropped when I saw her allowed these bad kids to touch and poke her. No child ever got away with that on any of my routes and I did over 100 routes with all KINDS of kids, and some who were WORSE than this. It was obvious she neglected to state the rules firmly from the beginnin and TAKE control. If you don't do that you lose before you even start. I would have (and did) papered those sort of kids with so many writeups on a daily basis tha something would have been done about it. I was so upset watching this video that she didn't jump up and say 'You, sit there!'. And 'you, over there'! And no more talking! But she did nothing, and sat there glued to her seat like a sea slug on Sponge Bob. How in the world did she discipline even her own kids?? Not at all? In her interview with Matt Lauer she sad she hoped they would just 'go away'. Whaaaaaattttt? In another one she said she 'avoided them like she avoided a lot of things in her life'. Again, whaaaattt? She was incompetent, plain and simple, and I know she was because I DID her job. I was not perfect by ANY stretch but this didn't happen to me. It was handled right away before it would have ever gotten to this point. I think people are not seeing what really happened here and you can't really fault them but I DO know. And an interesting thing, when I comment elsewhere I am called a b, or told eff you, or dense, stupid, you name it.. and'none of my business'. Well yes I am qualified to comment because I did the job many years, I know exactly what it entails, and I would like to ask people this 'would you want her monitoring YOUR child'? I sure wouldn't want my grandkids on her bus!

      June 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  21. Chris

    I think this article did a pretty good job of explaining the major issues. I am a teacher and granted I teach in a district with few major issues, but I have still been cursed at and disrespected. Not often, but it happens and I can say that every time it has happened it has been from a kid who had some major issues going on at home or some major emotional issues. Teachers have to remember that a lot of times the kids are taking out other issues on them but man let me tell you it is HARD to keep your cool when you have a 14 year old cursing at you in front of a whole class! As the article said, the best way to deal with it is by saying something like "Do you really want to go down this road, because how do you think it is going to turn out?" But when an emotional middle schooler is hot, now they focus on not losing face and it can become bad very quickly! I have to admit, when i read this article and saw the video of the bus monitor, my first thought was that these people can't command the respect they need. Because it happens to every teacher, but of course, just like kids who are bullied, these kids seek out the weak teachers and school employees that don't have the skills to deal with it!

    June 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • blisslivmom

      I remember when the schools gave out citizenship grades. If you got all A's, but received a poor citizenship grade, you didn't make the honor roll. In our large urban school district today, there are no citizenship grades. Many parents will never know their child had been "actin' a fool" at school. Our schools need to post not only expectations, but clear consequences that are fairly applied when expectations are violated. At our local school there are expectations and no consequences whatsoever. The schools have mayhem.

      June 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  22. Irish Seanachie in Maine

    Jakkers, you have a nasty bunch of buggers. They seem to be reflecting their parents and American society at its worst! What ever happened to you Yanks and your manners? We always saw the Yanks as folks who believed in fair play, honesty, hard work and sticking up for the underdog. What has happened to ye ??? Now you reward Failure i.e. CEO's get bonus for leading a business to bankruptcy; your hero' s are now what you call "anti-hero's" and the most important thing is to look like a winner, not by doing something worth while but simply by putting someone else down?? Yank's we still look up to you for all the good folk in the U.S. but you have got to do something fast to change your course or you are going to lose it all. Slainte !

    June 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • 11BGI

      I'd take you more seriously if Ireland ever did anything worth congratulating. It says something when Angela's Ashes and Guinness are your national legacies.

      June 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  23. ocekit

    Parents never want to admit that their child might be a poor student or even a poor person because that requires them admitting that they made a mistake, that they failed to teach their child properly. They'd either won't or can't get the help they need to make their kids act like sane human beings. They would rather blame everything on the school in some delusional attempt to make themselves feel better. If parents would take some responsibility, as well as place more responsibility on their kids, perhaps many of these student bullies wouldn't be bullies in the first place.

    Kids aren't stupid: when they realize that they have a certain amount of power and a ton of leeway, they take advantage. If they see weakness, they will take advantage. It horrifies me how little backing teachers have nowadays, and how few recourses they have to deal with problem children and their parents. Punishments are not severe enough to bother a lot of kids out there. Teachers and staff are regularly discouraged from reporting trouble spots, and kids who go to staff are often swept under the rug of procedure, if they're talked to at all. All of this makes bullying that much easier.

    June 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  24. damon2g

    it is amazing the bullying taking place with some of the replies and replies on these posts. The issue is not about teacher's pay or lack their of. The issue is not who is raising these children. The issue is that bullying is a huge problem and always has been. It is more so of a problem because it is resulting in the loss of life. I don't want to hear that garbage that it is a part of life and everyone has to go through it and learn to deal with it. We are not empowering our teachers and administrators to administer discipline because we fear lawsuits and monetary repercussions. I will admit while kids and others would pick on you back in my day for various reasons of difference, there were serious consequences of corporal punishment, suspension, and possibly jail time for such acts. We need to get back to that and quit trying to be cool with children, but rather raise them and discipline so they will grow into reasonable, civilized and mature adults capable of handling conflict and not fearing dealing with bullies. We need to reintroduce old school discipline back in our school systems, starting from the top down. I would take it a step forward to having trials handled by the school system and proper authorities to administer appropriate discipline to bullies and set the standard of no tolerance of violence and bullying in our school systems. Bringing school systems and law enforcement together to work hand in hand to stop these acts before these bullies extend their hand beyond schools.

    June 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  25. Buck

    I saw bullying at school every day back in the 70s and early 80s. I saw teachers get bullied, threatened, and beaten by "students." I saw large groups of "students" attack one or two students at a time. I even saw a kid with CP get beaten simply for talking back to a bully. The bullies got away with it because they were black.

    June 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • damon2g

      The bullies got away with it because they were black. Wow. Truly ignorant are you. So you predicate bullying into a race issue as opposed to an abuse and violence issue? Your comment would offend me, but ignorance does not offend me.

      June 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
      • AB7

        Buck talked about the 70 and 80's. These were very sensitive times with intergration in schools. Sorry but while not all blacks behaved badly but yes Administration was reluctant at that time to call out black students for fear of appearing racist. So some blacks in retaliation for past generation grivences would be abbusive and get away with it. Not so ignorant just observant. And how can you denie a persons experiance?

        June 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
      • Alexander Rogge

        "The bullies got away with it because they were black. Wow. Truly ignorant are you. So you predicate bullying into a race issue as opposed to an abuse and violence issue?"

        I'm afraid the comment isn't far off. The race card does work because school employees don't want to get involved when they could be sued or otherwise made to look bad. I've experienced this too, when the school administration enabled a Black student to continue bullying me and supported her lies, for reasons including that her mother screamed louder than mine. Another Black student assaulted me and he was let off, while my parents were called and I was blamed for starting the fight. It may seem insensitive to the racial conflict, but a self-serving bureaucracy knows few bounds. The weaker student and quieter parents can be easier to deal with, so the blame is placed on the victim instead of taking on the aggressive party.

        June 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  26. Oscar Pitchfork

    THE BEST THING TO DO WITH THE BULLYS IS TO FIND THE BIGGEST, MOST RELIABLE 17-YEAR-OLD YOU CAN AND PAY HIM A HUNDRED BUCKS TO BREAK THE BULLY'S ARM(S)/LEG(S)/WHATEVER. KEEP HIM ON RETAINER AND MAKE SURE HE'S PAID ENOOUGH TO KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT. IF THE BULLY DOESN'T LEARN HIS LESSON, PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL FOR SIX MONTHS...THAT'S THE WAY LIFE HAS TO WORK NOW...

    June 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  27. wattermelann@msn.com

    When students bully teachers, other teachers will bully the targeted teacher, too and principals will bully because the teacher has lost control of the class and that is a biggey! You loose control of the class you jeopardize your job and you will be bullied by the student, other teachers and the principals, It is a lose, lose situation and it jeopardizes a teacher's health, well being and livelihood. Today education has great research and support, but within the walls of the schools there is only lying and corruption and teachers and especially principals are the real instigators and culprits of bullying because their deceitfulness bullying goes unreported and uncensured.

    June 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Kentucky teacher

      Yes, this happens. I was bulllied by a student all year ended up with chest pains and a high dose of blood pressure meds . I tried everything but he got away with it. He bullied other teachers too. Just a horrible situation. And it is true the post about other teachers not being supportive when this happens. No one wants the "shame" of it

      June 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
      • John

        College Entrance Forms should necessiate feedback from school teachers about every applicant's moral conduct. Admission should be denied if bullying and being disruptive in class is reported by teachers. If this system is followed by even the best colleges, bullying in school may come down.

        June 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • AB7

      There are bullies everywhere. Teachers are not saints and Yes I have seen teachers and administration bully. Anyone with a family member with high medical bills will likely experiance bullying in any profession.

      June 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • daisy

      Finally!!!!!!!!!!! Someone speaks the truth....NOW WHERE IS THE MEDIA TO REPORT THE HIDDEN STORY??????????

      June 27, 2012 at 3:12 am |
      • daisy

        HATS OFF TO WATERMELLAN FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!! THERE IS THE REAL STORY! THE FIRST MEDIA NETWORK TO REPORT THIS STORY WILL OPEN THE ENTIRE CAN OR WORMS!

        June 27, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • brookingstyler

      tell your story at

      http://teacherhunt.blogspot.com

      June 29, 2012 at 3:56 am |
  28. musicteacher

    I was only in my 4th year of teaching when I experienced being bullied by a student and their entire family. It was their mission to get me fired. I am not a perfect person, nor a perfect teacher, but I would walk over hot coals any day of the week for ANY of my students. I do my best to convey the information and I try to have a little fun while doing it. I can't think of ONE single thing that I ever did to upset this student or their parents, but they were out for blood. Fortunately I live in a small community and had the opportunity to get to know many of the other people and they backed me up 100%. I can't imagine what would have happened if I were in a bigger district and they didn't know me as well. It's my word against theirs. I am now going on 7 years (in the same small district) and I am very happy with my job. So you know, the family removed their student and takes them to another district and when I still run into them, they make horrible comments about me. Sticks and stones, my friends, sticks and stones. Keep your heads up out there.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • D F Lefty

      I saw this same thing happen to a very good, caring, loving teacher. It riuned her for the year it went on. She was stressed about every word she said, every move she made. The family had siblings in different class periods with her, so the onslaught was incessant. She persevered, and those of us who could speak did so on her behalf. Ultimately, her career suffered for it, and her students did not get her best because of the distraction. The parents went over the principal and beyond in their attempts, and his was (is?) a time when reducing staff meant meeting budget. Although she "won," she left teaching two years after that. Stories like this are not rare, and society will pay the price sooner than later.

      June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  29. me

    Its not that bullying is on the rise. Its that parenting is on the decline. I hate to say it, but I'd rather my child harbor some deep seated resentment towards me and my paddle, than have my child displaying the kind of chimpanzee-behavior that seems to be the norm. Imagine "project X" in the 1950's....wouldn't have happened.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Bob Johns

      You think they have police in schools to prtect the students from the teachers? CNN just ran an article where Chicago youths claim they may not see the age of 18. Think teachers are shooting them? Then CNN in wants educators' evaluation made public "because they are employees of the government". I will agree when all those paid through federal, states, local government funds are evaluated and all evalouations are made public. This includes politicians.

      June 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
      • Teacher

        I am in a tough district. We have a police officer in our building much of the time – some ofourstudents have tried to fight him. When teachers have been hit in the head trying to break up fights they have had to get themselves to the district approved doctor. I don't know a single teacher in my district who hasn't been cussed out by a student at least once – and that includes the elementary teachers. We have had weapons in our buildings more than once. I have taught muder vitims and I have taught perpetrators. I have also taught a lot of good kids who could slide down the slippery slope.

        There are a lot of good kids but bad behavior can be contagious when there are few consequences. It isn't just the parents, it is the community and society that have created this culture of direspect and anger. Too bad society isn't stepping up to try to change things.

        June 27, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  30. Destry

    A teacher doesnt want to rock the boat because thats their career, a kids got nothing to lose. Its a lose lose situation.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  31. Destry

    When in court a judge will always take the word of a police officer over the word of a citizen. How is it that teachers dont have this same priveledge? Give them the power to control the classroom, and make pay raises on merit not tenure. Starting salary for any new techer should be 100k, they are the future life blood of this world. Give them the power, money and respect they deserve.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • EQ8Rhomes

      School admin are obsessed with avoiding "bad publicity". So Admin IGNORE teachers' reports of student and parent bullying. Some teachers and admin bully teachers. A teacher who reports bullying to Admin is seen as weak because "How can a "kid" bully a teacher if the teacher did not warrant it?" "Kid" incites disruption; Admin blame teacher.If teacher disciplines "kid", teacher is marked and "kid's" "friends" take revenge. " Kid" says," I know where you live!" If the teacher responds, "kids" make up stories and Admin just LOVE kids more than anyone else ever does!
      Teacher is expected to pass a " see me after class" note DISCREETLY to the offending "kid"; he busts out of the room at the bell and maybe stays away a few days. By the time T. reports and counsellor gets on the case, it's too late and "kid" has won and MOM calls Admin to report : T. is picking on my baby!
      Vice-principal, wannabe Principal, marks teacher for Admin non-cooperation and a not-so-covert process to terminate T. is under way.
      Teachers want to teach and be recognized for doing their best for students and parents. But many parents and their kids have not bought into the value of education. To them, School is "dodgeball" and going to school means a pass for warming a chair and letting others in the class do the projects. Group gets the mark for the work of the usual few WORKERS who love to learn.
      For too many, MARKS have little or NOTHING to do with learning and forget about PROFICIENCY!
      It's like going to a store, buying $100.00 worth of food, and asking the cashier to give just $50,00 worth, because $100.00 worth is too much to carry. The 47, 48, 49%ers rounded off to 50% or better later comp;lain about low wages and fewer working shifts!
      End of rant for now.

      June 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
      • Kentucky teacher

        very true posts seen it happen lots of times!

        June 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  32. TexasTeacher

    Having been in education for 10 years (at the high school level) there are a few things that concern me. The first is that teachers allow students to have more control than necessary and the second is that teachers are often too afraid to connect with parents in an effort to curb misbehavior, fearing this will result in conflict that will escalate. In becoming a teacher I sat through the "theoretical" classes that supposedly address classroom management but the best instruction I ever received was this: "When you call a parent about their child, ALWAYS begin your conversation with the phrase 'I need your help.'" This not only dis-arms a parent but it gets them on YOUR side and inevitably they will not only understand that you have their child's best interest at heart; they will also work WITH you to insure that their child becomes a better person or (at a minimum) is held accountable on both ends of the spectrum.

    The second issue I have is that kids are not inherently bad, which is what this article seems to intimate. The truth of the matter is that kids will conform to your expectations, so long as those expectations are reasonable and respectful. Kids will do what we allow them TO do and what we EXPECT them to do. But they must have consistency.

    In my 10 years in the classroom I can count on one hand the number of issues that I have had with students that required escalation to a level that I could not directly handle. Adults HAVE control. They just need to exercise it judiciously and respectfully. Parents are an awesome resource! Use them!

    June 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • herbert

      my friend teaching in high school is different than middle school at that point they are starting to realize that they must start to get ready for life middle school students are thinking they are in a waiting until they get to high school .

      June 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • MTS

      I SO agree with everything you've said! Telling parents that you need their help will certainly put some responsibility on THEM. I've seen it work miracles!

      June 28, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  33. Tim in America

    It takes the right type of person to work with kids. I know from being a camp counselor, it is not simple. I'd work side by side with guys that would be kids themselves. Kids loved them (at first). I was tougher and consistent. But in a matter of a week, kids started turning to me to resolve real problems. I was told, they counted on me to do the fair thing. In another week, the other counselor would find toe nail clippings under his blankets. Then prank after prank. The once 'cool' counselor had lost all the respect of 9 year olds. My point, you can't be a peer to the kids you are in charge of. You need to be tough, consistent, and fair from day one, but not ridiculously tough.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  34. Friendly Pursuasion

    I was bullied by a teacher in 3rd grade back in 1967. I was the only minority (half asian) in a all white west texas school. I would complain to my parents and (white) grandparents as to what she would do to me, say about me in front of the class. In the Spring of that school year, I had an accident that landed me in the hospital for 2 weeks. That third grade teacher was forced to come by the hospital to provide me my school work and go over basic instruction. My grandmother was sitting with me when that teacher showed up to give me my homework packet. After that teacher left, my grandmother apologized to me and said that "yes" that teacher IS mean to you. I don't know if she complained to the school but wouldn't be surprised if she did–back then adults did not include children in adult matters.

    I have raised 4 kids: 2 out of high school, 1 in high school and 1 in elementary school. Out of all our kids educational experience, I feel we are fortunatel to only have experienced 4 teachers that were outright incompetent (and only 1 of these was a elementary school teacher-the others were mid and high school teacher) and only 2 teachers that were outright bullies (one being a first grade teacher).

    I DO believe some teachers can be bullies. But the majority of teachers in my own experience and my childrens' experience were compete, respectful folk and I am very glad that they chose such a self-less profession.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • pattysboi

      I had a sixth grade "teacher" in 1968 who should NEVER been allowed to teach, as she was completely incompetent and consistently mocked me in front of the entire class. I tried to tell my parents about it, but nothing was done, as SHE was the teacher and I was "just the kid".

      June 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  35. Sad

    "Otherwise, the administration is just going on the teachers’ words.”

    How sad that the word of a teacher is not enough.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  36. Mick

    What happens, as it has in many organizations and political situations, when the bullies figure out that they can be even more effective by pretending they are the victims and that their victims are the aggressors ? Anyone in any position of authority in today's America can be accused of behavior that may threaten their job if they say anything remotely similar to what the "positive strategies" "expert" stated. What planet is she on ?

    June 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  37. Joshua

    Ms. Klein is recommending "town hall" meetings for children to get together and discuss issues. Well we see how well that works at pep rallies and assemblies, everyone split off into thier respective cliques and the popular kids made fun of the unpopular kids even then. This idea comes from a lack of understanding of real life and childhood behavior. It will just further breakdown the already tenuous relationships these children have with one another. Remember that many of these behaviors are learned at home or in peer groups.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • raggedhand

      Yep, mass meetings are just about the WORST way to handle this and I say this as an experienced high school teacher. The bullies will simply sit in their groups and reinforce each other as they snicker at the speakers.

      Bullies need an audience and the worst thing you can do is provide one. An experienced teacher knows that to handle them you need to divide and conquer.
      Go after the bullie/leader and treat him with a no-nonsense actions.
      Never get mad, but never put up with the misbehavior, either. Remove him from his peer groups.
      Find a positive role for him in the classroom that will get him positive attention. Publicly praise him at every opportunity you can do so if the praise is real. It's very important not to act like you're sucking up or trying to be a friend.
      Real praise in public (a simple "good job" as you're walking through the class if you catch him doing the right thing) will do wonders.
      Target his pack/groupies and get them on your side and privately point out to them how the bully is hurting himself (and making himself look like an idiot) and his group by acting out.
      Demand respect and give it.

      And, btw, it doesn't hurt to be a good teacher. If everyone is busy and engaged, bullying drops dramatically. In school the old phrase idle hands make the devil's work is very true. You'll get respect if you are doing your job and doing it well.

      June 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  38. Joshua

    we should also step back and consider that if you are slightly humorous at someone else's expense then you are a bully. Fifteen years ago people were not nearly so sensative. everyone blamed Marilyn Manson and Video Games for abhorrent behavior.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  39. Friendly Pursuasion

    Call me old fashioned, but I will always believe that a childs bad behavior in public is a mirror of his behavior at home. My husband and I are old-school dinosaurs when it comes to adult/child relationships. Our children know that if any authoritative adult in their life has to correct their behavior, we will not tolerate any whining/accusation that some parent/teacher was "mean" to them. Not to say we are naive and will always side with ANY adult for any reason–not true!-but we will not take a child's anger at being told "no" as grounds to undermine an other adult's attempt to make our child a more considerate being.

    A friend of mine is a school teacher and single mother. She has two sons, one who is the same age as my son and is a classmate, and a younger boy that just completed Kindergarten. Both of her boys have been allowed to get away with any and all things. Since we have had several playdates and social outings with our school teacher friend and her boys, my husband has occassionally and respectfully corrected her boys' bad behavior. While the older boy is "getting the message" and has improved his behavior when around us, that younger boy has become more and more beligerant and disrespectful. He regularly HITS HIS OWN MOTHER when he doesn't get his way. In fact the last 2 times Mom wanted to go out of town without her boys, her own mother, the boys' grandmother refused to watch the boys due to the younger's awful behavior. We have taken the boys 1 weekend and the younger told my husband and me several times to shut up and that we were bad people and he will call the police if we didn't give him what he wanted now. She just makes excuse after excuse after excuse for him, constantly saying he will grown out of it just like his big brother. I don't think so. This terrible little boy is nothing like his big brother. Luckily the older boy and my boy are not as close as they once were, so we don't have to interact socially as often. I have heard from others at the Elementary school that the younger boy is as awful to his peers and teachers and administration as he is to his mother and other adults who try to correct his behavior.

    This woman is a teacher raising a terror of a child. Who knew love could be so blind and permissive?

    June 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Joshua

      That is not love, it is a desire to be liked...It is the same reason teachers picked on unpopular kids when I was in school. Because they thought it made the popular kids like them, mind you many of these teachers were in the middle years seeking the approval of teenagers and children/...

      June 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • Chris

        Joshua, I feel for you, bro...I really do. But you obviously had a couple bad experiences with teachers, and now you are painting all teachers with a ridiculously broad brush. Like, massive. Most people don't have problems like that with teachers, so you are coming off like a lunatic here and in your other posts.

        June 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  40. Steven

    "Outside the view of principals and parents, workers who aren’t perceived to have power in school communities – bus monitors, for example – are often targets".
    Excellent point. My question is whether this bus monitor was actualy empowered to do her job of maintaining order on the bus? My first instinct is that she was not; if she had authority, she would have used it to protect herself.
    How should she have been empowered to maintain order on the bus?

    June 26, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • AB7

      You are so right. We give teachers and monitors authority but no power.

      June 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  41. Joshua

    I had a teacher in high school once say "It is not my job to teach you chemistry, I have tenure,"

    if that is not proof the education system is broken then you are hopeless or in the teachers union...

    June 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Joshua

      so, if you want to talk about how teachers are bullied how about that? Actually, how about how they give the "cool" kids a pass and actually pick on the "un-cool" kids so that the popular ones will like them? People used to be teachers because they were good at it. now they do it because if they can survive ten years of awefulness they are set...Where did the kids end up? Not in college, and if they did it was not because of teachers, but because those kids were hard working and intelligent. I missed out on getting AP college credit because a teacher's son got my spot in the class even though that teacher told me "my son failed the exam"....start by not allowing a teachers child to even attend that school, and do away with tenure.

      June 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • middle school teacher/mom

        That is one teacher. In the school I teach we do not teach in that manner. However, I have told a student to look up the information he asked me to answer. The reason was I had taught it several times and none of the methods had helped him remember (sentence structure). He then told his mom I refused to help and I was called into the office to be reprimanded. Thank goodness I had records to prove how many times I had attempted to teach this knowledge. As for the people who will say we don't use this in the real world. You are wrong, employees are constantly judged by their writing and speaking. I love my job and can not imagine any other field but if my boys talked back the way some of my students do they would have been grounded until they were 18. Sometimes getting the whole story is difficult. I think real honesty all the way around is what is needed.

        June 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  42. Obvious

    The education system in the USA is a disaster. We teach to a minimum standard and pass at 60 to 70% of minimum. We should teach to the highest standard and have that 70% of the highest standard as minimum for passing. Our teachers should be well educated. I have had teachers who did not know the subject they were teaching. Government should get out of the classroom. Parents should get involved in the schooling of their children. Teachers should be given power to control the classroom setting and not brought down when Johnny or Janey gets corrected. If a child is repeatedly a problem get them OUT of the classroom where others want to learn. Teach the children AND their parents that if learning is not the goal their children will be removed. Develop a remedial system for these students until they are properly prepared to learn and to respect the teaching profession. Remove them from the harmful parental influence and put them in state sponsered homes to be taught respect, manners and generally how to be a good citizen. Parents that canot teach their children how to be good citizens should not have anymore children.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  43. Drobat

    Rather than “writing a student up” or “reporting to the principal,” Wiseman suggests a clear, respectful reaction: Recognize students’ actions are inappropriate and shocking, but don’t appear to be weakened or negatively affected. It’s about maintaining the student-teacher dynamic. “You have to be like, ‘Wait, you’re actually calling me a b**** right now? I’m coming at you with respect, and I’m absolutely expecting that I get that back. I can’t force you, but I expect the same in return.’”

    A clear and respectful reaction is to take that kid out of the room by the collar and down to the principal's office for an ass whipping. Make an example of that student. As they should we these idiots on the bus that treated the monitor so awfully...they should be suspended for the rest of the year, not able to move on to the next grade, and be given ONE more opportunity to move on with a clean record. This starts with and ends with the parents. Teach your kids how to respect others and this problem doesn't exist on the scale we see it today.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Obvious

      Hold the parents responsible for their crappy mannered offspring. The parents ARE the PROBLEM.

      June 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Geogirl

      At drobat...thanks for your comment! I have done that in my own classroom. I go with humor and give respect to ALL my students. Even then, there are still some students out there who are still disrespectful. What I find is that admin has gotten away from expulsions and zero tolerance so they can collect the ADA. Kids know this and try to get away with a lot of bad behavior.

      My take is: treat all students with respect but weed out the repeat offenders. The majority of high schoolers are really great individuals. It is the few that are creating the havoc!

      June 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  44. Mike

    I hold the principal of the school responsible. Its the responsibility of the Principal to create a safe environment for his or her staff. Students who threaten or insult teachers are to be removed immediately from the classroom and their parents required to come pick them up.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Dick Diamond

      You are so correct! I worked for good principals and weak ones. It was great under a strong principal who brooked no challenge to staff and students from bullies. I worked for principals who were afraid of their shadow and allowed the "inmates to run the asylum." It was hell. I quit after 40 years.

      June 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
      • AnotherAnnie

        I agree – when I worked in a school with a principal who treated every parental and student complaint as a matter of poor customer service on the part of the teacher ("The customer is always right!" he would say), the parents and students ran the show, the teachers received virtually no support, and teachers were constantly seen as guilty until proven innocent. Then, I switched schools and districts, and I ended up with a great administrative staff that started off from the stand point of "The students will respect the adults in this building." From there, it didn't matter if you were the student's teacher, a hall monitor, bus driver, cafeteria worker, aide, janitor – the entire staff would stick up for each other. What a huge improvement! The students weren't perfect, but it was a far better envioronment than the first school.

        June 27, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Drobat

      I absolutely agree, no if's and's or but's...threaten a teacher/monitor/student like that and you are gone...period.

      June 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • blisslivmom

      Your comment Mike is very accurate. Most principals push off the responsibility of maintaining order in the school building to teachers, and then the teachers are blamed and not backed. Teachers become the focus of the problem when as in all human hierarchies it is the responsibility of the leader (principal). Years ago, classrooms were balanced by gender, academics and behavior. Now with computer scheduling, it is possible for an urban teacher to be super loaded with students with severe behavioral issues and other teachers having very few in their classes. Or what happens with leadership that has gone rogue, certain teachers are given the most difficult students, then blamed when they can't have the same outcomes as a class with students with almost no behavior difficulties. It's hard to believe, but it happens.

      June 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  45. EM

    Apparently if you cannot perform your job and are incompentent you get large sums of money and free gifts.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • skppa

      Em – Have you ever worked in a school? It is no piece of cake. Yes, I have summers off: however, I constantly take classes on my own dime to improve my skill. No amount of money makes up for being threatened, spit upon, or degraded. I put in more than a 40 hour week, which includes writing lessons plans, creating interesting projects, and differentiating instruction so that all may learn. I went into education as a vocation by my own choice. It is a career but it does not mean that good teachers sit on their rear ends.

      June 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  46. Dennis

    Parents today want to be their kids "best friend",not their parent..Don't expect them to discipline their kid or provide consequences for their behavior..

    June 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  47. HighSchoolStudent

    its sad but i do see this happen a lot. i see students curse at a teacher. call them nasty names. and i see teachers stand there and do nothing and i feel they stay quite because the student will twist it around and exagerate the teachers words. sometimes when a teacher does say something back the student(s) laugh and just talk back again. in high school a lot more kids are respectful but the few that aren't are VERY nasty. they will curse at a teacher and walk out. and depending if the student has a close relationship with the principle the student will make it seem its all the teachers fault. im not lying. i've seen this happen. the school i attended 2011-2012 the principle defends the students instead of the faculty.
    i'm not a straight A student and i'm very quite in class, but when a teacher gets mad at me for not doing work, to pay attention in class, or to actually show up to class. i dont talk back and argue. why? because i strongly believe in RESPECT.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • AB7

      HighSchoolStudent you are so right. Most students are very well behaved and respectful. It is also true that a few bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. I bet there were many more students on the bus just hating to see what was going on but were powerless to stop it. Many just cannot seem to see how bad the few can make it for everyone.

      June 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  48. art

    roy t its parents like you who probably have little monsters or brats for kids, they are always right. The crap that school teachers have to put up with is unbelievable, and then you have the parents who don't give a crap, they know how to have the kids but don;t know how to raise the kids, and if you ask me teachers damn sure don't make enough to have to put up with idiot parentys like you

    June 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  49. roy t

    please you don ‘t know what you are talking about....i have kids in school and a lot of times it’s the teachers that are the bullies. I’v set a few straight… unprofessional… and they make enough

    June 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • madrussian

      Spoken by a person who knows absolutely nothing about teaching. I do agree that some teachers can be bullies themselves, and I've also set them straight (as I am also a teacher). As for the money statement, considering the hours we put into the profession per week (this is not a 40 hour a week job by any means), you're clueless.

      June 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • EM

        yea alot less, with all the free blocks and summers off.

        June 26, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
      • Dorothy

        What about the teachers that are bullied by other teachers and administrative staff? Also, some parents get bullied by staff when they are trying to respond to issues with their children.

        June 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • sam

      Based on your post, I'm not sure you finished school, much less have kids in one.

      June 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Fed-up Teacher

      Yea, Roy, it's ALWAYS the teacher's faults. Never the students. I bet the students NEVER act up, ALWAYS come to school, ALWAYS come prepared, and NEVER twist things around. Cuz that sounds like the students I know.
      I'm not saying teachers are perfect, and I am NOT justifying certain teachers' actions, but you (as a parent) should know better – it takes a community or town to raise a child.

      June 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • AB7

      And you are likely one of the bad parents others are talking about. EVERY Child is entiled to a peaceful education on not just your ill mannered off spring.

      June 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • AnotherAnnie

      If feel multiple teachers have tried to bully your kids, then their behavior must be beyond the norm. Your children are probably very poorly behaved and neglect to take responsibility for their actions. And they probably inherited that deficit from you. The apple generally doesn't fall far from the tree. If it was one or two teachers over the years, perhaps those teachers had a genuine problem or were "bad apples" because afterall, there is mediocrity in every profession. But if your children have encountered what you perceive as bullying by numerous teachers, your children must be the root cause. It's simply not that common of a problem.

      June 27, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  50. Classroom

    Right! It could be a variety of factors in how the ship ( school) is run that perpetuates the problem. It could be a
    wimpy administration, clueless counselor, insane parents, but the saddest is a teacher so focused and dedicated to
    expending energy to the material and trying to keep a positive, upbeat demeanor with students, that one day he/she
    realizes much more of the energy needs to go toward class control ( it cheats the other students who want to learn).
    Thus, the slow erosion of talented teachers. All of this in an ever increasing stressful environment with a guillotine
    blade of litigation hanging overhead.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
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