What To Do When Teachers Bully Students In School

By Gabrielle Seunagal

Updated September 06, 2019

Reviewer Melinda Santa

In the educational system, teachers are tasked with the responsibility of helping their students learn and grow. The purpose of teaching is to ensure that students are able to adopt the necessary skills in order to move to the next level and ultimately succeed in the real world.

Of course, teaching inherently comes with some degree of power and authority over students. This is why it can be so shocking and devastating when teachers turn out to be perpetrators of bullying against their students. As unbelievable as this may seem to uncertain individuals, teachers can be bullies. Knowing how to handle these types of situations in the proper manner is absolutely paramount.

When Teachers Bully Students

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The shock that often accompanies news of teachers bullying students is very understandable. However, not all people who are given power know how to handle or manage it. Typically, when people think of bullies in the educational environment, they think of students bullying other students. No form or fashion of bullying is ever okay. However, the inherent power which a teacher has over a student can make the impacts or experience of facing bullying that much worse.

As many people may imagine, teachers who bully students in school generally carry this out in various meticulous ways. Teachers who abuse their power in this manner may choose to humiliate students in front of their peers, single out pupils who score poorly on a test or otherwise exert their authority in order to make the students in their care feel uncomfortable. Obviously, it's inexcusable and unjustifiable when teachers are bullying their students, yet there are not many programs or campaigns to address this manner of abuse.

Abuse of Power And Feeling Stuck

The bullying of students at the hands of teachers is quite insidious for a plethora of reasons. Aside from the inherent wrongness, students may have a more difficult time handling this than they would if the bully were one of their peers. Furthermore, many students have to rely on their teachers for grades and may not have the luxury of simply leaving the class without any headache. If the students are in college, their financial aid stipulations may depend upon them taking a certain class. To make matters worse, teachers who choose to bully their students are aware of the plight which it causes and they use this to their advantage.

Over the years, various studies have shown that individuals who suffer from sociopathy and psychopathy are attracted to positions of power in the workplace. Of course, this is not to say that every powerful person is a sociopath or a psychopath. However, individuals who do fall into these categories are much likelier to abuse any power which they happen to come into contact with. Individuals of this nature generally choose to go after people who they know are hard-pressed to fight back or defend themselves. This certainly proves a huge explanation for at least part of the mentality behind teachers who bully their students in school.

Dealing With A Teacher Who Bullies Students

Before we continue any further, it's important to note that the vast majority of teachers are great people. Individuals who become teachers generally do so because they have a vested interest in educating the next generation and being there for young people. Still, as amazing as most teachers are, understanding how to deal with teachers who are bullies is imperative. Thankfully, by taking the proper course of action, you can ensure that teachers who are bullies receive the proper discipline.

Take Written Note Of All Incidents

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Whenever you're dealing with a situation where a teacher bullies students, having written documentation of the event and everything which transpired is quite necessary. This means noting dates, times, witnesses, places, etc. Of course, you'll need to keep these notes in a safe place and preferably in more than one location.

It never hurts to be too cautious in situations like this one. Notes of bullying should be reported to the principal, school administrator, and potentially law enforcement officers, depending on the nature of the bullying. Make sure that you make copies of your notes so that you always have them on record, even if you have to share copies with the aforementioned authority figures.

Do Not Remain Silent

When bullying happens from an authority figure, such as a teacher, sometimes people feel tempted to remain silent in the hopes that things blow over. This is not how matters work when bullies are involved, especially when those bullies are in positions of power. Coming to grips with the reality that a teacher is a bully is understandably upsetting and challenging. Sometimes may question whether or not they did something to "cause" the teacher to target them in an inappropriate manner. Ultimately, the teacher is responsible for their own actions and if they're bullying students, they need to be held accountable. Silence only enables bullying.

Be Prepared To Obtain Legal Counsel

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In the word case scenario, there are times where principals and higher-ups within a school district neglect to take action when a teacher is bullying their students. In cases such as this, setting the professional counsel of a lawyer may be the next best step. Granted, matters may not always come to this, but in the event that they do, it's important to be prepared and in the position to act accordingly.

Why Do Some Teachers Bully Students?

While teachers are not flawless human beings, this does not excuse bullying in any capacity whatsoever. Still, understanding the reasons why certain teachers bully students in their school is imperative. Even though these reasons don't justify student bullying, they can provide insight for people who are at a loss.

Personal Issues Outside Of The Classroom

Teachers are not exempt from having personal issues in their lives. These issues could pertain to their marriage, family, etc. The problem only arises when teachers begin to take out their personal issues on their students. Not only is this behavior unprofessional and abusive, but it also punishes students who literally look up to their bully as an authority figure.

Frustration With The Class

It's no secret that students can sometimes behave poorly and in manners which make it harder for teachers to do their job. As such, the teacher may lash out at various students and become a bully in order to regain control and power which they believe they have lost. Of course, this does not excuse bullying students either. However, it does indicate that the teacher in this situation is unfit to manage a classroom. Students act rowdy and get out of control sometimes. Whenever a teacher believes that bullying their students is the only way to get them in line, that's heavily problematic.

Negative Reminder

When teachers single out specific students and bully them, that student may remind them of someone or something which they dislike. Simply hearing that may seem unbelievable, but it has been known to happen. Obviously, the student in this situation is not at fault and doesn't deserve to be bullied simply because their teacher is reminded of something which makes them unhappy. Once again, bullying students indicates a serious character flaw at the end of the teacher along with a lack of fitness to teach young people.

When Asking For Help Makes A Difference

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Learning that a teacher is bullying students in school is never easy to realize. It conflicts with the notions society has of teachers being good people who honor a values system. Despite how difficult and upsetting this can be, the only worst things would be not knowing how to handle the situation or doing nothing at all.

Dealing with bullying at the hands of a teacher can be extremely traumatizing for a student. It's important to ensure that the student is okay and gets the help they need. Furthermore, under no circumstances should a student remain in a classroom or setting where they are being bullied by a teacher. This is unhealthy on multiple levels and can create a multitude of problems later on down the line.

Seeking Online Therapy

If you or someone you know has dealt with bullying from a teacher or some other issue, you may find that signing up for online therapy with BetterHelp can truly make a meaningful difference. One of the greatest things in the world about online therapy is that anyone with access to it can work with a therapist, talk through the challenges which they face and then get the proper guidance. Furthermore, online therapy does not come along with the hassle of traveling or having to disrupt your schedule by setting up appointments to meet at an office.

Each person deserves to have the best possible care and receive input which is uniquely tailored to their situation. Online therapy has changed the lives of many people; while it does not ensure that you'll never have any obstacles in your path, an online therapist can certainly see to it that you don't have to overcome these obstacles by yourself.


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