Who are the real bullies?
By Elizabeth Pfeiffer
January 2003
With all the hubbub across the nation about bullying in schools among the students, one has to wonder why there is a different standard for teachers who bully children. Children may not always show it, but they look up to adults for guidance in how to behave. If the adult is a parent or teacher, and this adult’s method of operating involves the use of strong-arm, bullying tactics, what is the child learning? Isn't this a form of child abuse? The issue of teachers humiliating and abusing children has been recognized in some circles, but never truly dealt with. Though the majority of teachers function well and are dedicated to children and to the learning process, far too many others, unfortunately, are dysfunctional, and harm not only children, but the teaching profession as a whole.

While visiting with my family in Evansville, my daughter asked me to make a visit to my grandson’s elementary school where he is in the fourth grade. He has always been a straight-A student. But he started showing severe emotional problems as a result of what was happening with his new teacher. At one time, she grabbed him by his shirt, put her hands around his neck and threatened to slap him. She apparently has a history of this kind of behavior. After my daughter complained to the principal, my grandson was singled out and humiliated in front of his peers. During our visit to the school, we met with the principal and teacher. When my daughter told the teacher that she wanted the child removed from her class because of her effect on him, the teacher grabbed my daughter's blouse, almost bringing her out of her chair, and said “This is all I did to your son.” The principal refused to allow my grandson to be moved to another class.

Are parental rights in public schools a reality or a figment of the imagination? Most parents are intimidated by principals and teachers because of their own childhood school experiences. Children need limits, guidance and structure. But one has to wonder just how many of them are getting a distorted version of these concepts fueled by the misdirected anger of those in charge. All it takes is one episode of humiliation in school to do severe damage to a child's psyche. My husband is a teacher and knows from first-hand experience the importance of treating students with respect.

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