Bullying has become a common occurrence in today’s society, or at least we are more aware of it’s existence. Every time we turn on the television or open a newspaper there is another story. It is a terrible thing for anyone to go through and as parents we teach our children to go to a trusted adult for help. But, what if the adult you trust most with your child is the bully?
Recent studies have examined the prevalence of teachers who bully students not only in grade school but also in college. Results indicate that teachers who were victims of bullying themselves are more likely to both bully students and experience bullying by students both in classrooms and outside the classroom.
(Twemlow, et al. 2005).
It is a fact that students who are bullied have long term emotional problems. Some have even gone on to behaviors that have been lethal due to retaliatory violence (Chapell, 2004). The hardest part is that most of the incidents were preventable.
In light of the overwhelming evidence that there are traumatic effects on childhood development as a result of bullying, we need to be pro-active about educating teachers. We need to educate them not only on the implications bullying can have on mental health, but we need to advocate for effective teaching strategies and tools to help them avoid bullying.
As an educator, I have witnessed bullying by teachers. I did not recognize it at the time, but after learning more about bullying, I can no longer justify ignoring it. .Olweus (1999) characterizes bullying by three criteria, 1) aggressive behavior or intentional harm 2) behavior carried out over time 3) interpersonal relationship characterized by an imbalance of power (pp. 10-11).
We have all experienced a teacher that is a bit aggressive, but when that teacher repeatedly overpowers or singles out certain students, that teacher is a bully. It is never ok for a teacher to berate or speak in a condescending tone to any student. We trust our teachers to educate our children, not to intimidate or harm them psychologically.
As with any worthy cause, education and communication is the key to social change. We need to keep the lines of communication open with our children and teach them how to recognize a bully in or out of school. We also need to keep lines of communications open with their teachers and address any problems as they arise. Working together we can improve the lives of our children and as a result, improve society as a whole.
Twemlow, S., & Fonagy, P. (2005). The prevalence of teachers who bully students in schools with differing levels of behavioral problems. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(12), 2387-2389. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.12.2387.
Chapell, M., Casey, D., De la Cruz, C., Ferrell, J., Forman, J., Lipkin, R., et al. (2004). Bullying in college by students and teachers. Adolescence, 39(153), 53-64. Retrieved from PsycINFO database