How to Help Those Bullied by Teachers

When we think bullying, we tend to think of students being bullied by a classmate. Unfortunately, sometimes teachers or other school employed adults engage in bullying, making the matter that much more concerning and challenging. If you believe your child is being bullied by their teacher or another school employee, don’t wait to reach out for the professional legal guidance of an experienced school discipline attorney today.

Bullying Defined

Bullying can include statements or behavior  that targets a person – in this case, a student – on the basis of any of the following:

  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Any other legally protected class

California’s Education Codes require schools to have policies and processes in place that carefully address bullying and harassment by anyone. In relation to schools, bullying refers to severe or pervasive actions or conduct that can be either physical or verbal and that cause the student who is being bullied to fear for their safety or into experiencing substantial interference in terms of their mental or physical health or their ability to participate in their education fully. Bullying – whether perpetrated by a student or teacher – is not an accident.

Signs that Bullying May Be a Concern

If your child comes to you and says they are being bullied, one of the most important steps you can take right out of the gate is to not express disbelief or minimize what they are describing. Show empathy and support, but do not get angry or upset.  Listen with an open mind.  You should try to get other information for an accurate understanding of what happened.  That might mean asking your child questions, talking to other witnesses, and talking to the teacher for their side of the story.

Often, hwever, students do not recognize that they are being bullied – especially when the person doing the bullying is a teacher – and they don’t have the words to express their pain, they are often ashamed,  afraid of reprisal, or experience a combination of all of these and don’t report the bullying to anyone. Some of the signs indicative of bullying at school that you should be aware of include the following:

  • While your child once loved heading off to school each morning, they no longer do so.
  • Your child exhibits an out-of-the-blue and precipitous drop in grades.
  • Your healthy child begins to complain about tummy troubles, headaches, or anything else to get out of going to school.
  • Your child returns from school gloomy rather than exhibiting their characteristic enthusiasm.
  • Your child develops eating problems, sleep disturbances, or both.
  • Your child believes a teacher – or any other member of the school’s staff – focuses negative attention on them or openly dislikes them.

While it’s difficult to imagine that an adult professional will bully a child, it’s important to recognize that it can happen and that disbelieving or minimizing the issue can make things that much more difficult for your child.

Examples of How Teachers Might Bully

While teachers and other members of a school’s staff can engage in a wide range of bullying practices that are often more nuanced, more difficult to prove, and more damaging than the overt bullying practiced by other kids, the following common examples can help you better understand the issue:

  • Identifying a student as a problem student and isolating them from the other children as a result
  • Treating a student differently than the rest of the class with no valid reason for doing so
  • Excluding a student from classroom activities that they are entitled to participate in
  • Ensuring that a student receives poor scores by either losing their tests and papers, failing to grade them, or grading them overly harshly
  • Assigning additional work to only one student
  • Allowing a student’s disability to prevent them from participating in activities such as class trips and other activities
  • Segregating the classroom according to gender or anything else
  • Making degrading statements to the student or gossiping about them to others
  • Punishing a student too harshly for a minor or nonexistent infraction
  • Applying more strict boundaries for a specific student, which ensures they are sent to the office more frequently
  • Singling out a student to humiliate them
  • Name calling or shaming the student

The teacher or staff member’s intention in the matter plays an important role in whether or not their actions reach the legal standard of bullying, but if any of the above red flags ring a bell with you, it’s time to consult with a seasoned California student rights attorney.

Don’t Wait to Share Your Concerns with a Seasoned California Student Rights Attorney

If you think a teacher may be bullying your child, the matter is too important to keep to ignore or delay in taking action. A trusted school discipline attorney has the keen legal insight and compassion to help. Contact us today.