Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Bullying Curriculum...For Teachers?
The story of Akian, a 10 year old boy from New Jersey with autism, has become a YouTube sensation. Stories of bullying teachers are indeed out there, but this one in particular has created much more publicity than usual because of audio recordings that offer proof that it was indeed occurring. And these kinds of stories are going to become more commonplace because parents are utilizing technology to gain justice for their children. Akian’s father was able to record teachers humiliating his son, repeatedly yelling at him to “shut up” and calling the child a “bastard.” What’s more disheartening is the result of the father’s complaints even after proof of the bullying. The aid was fired; the teacher was merely transferred to another school. Akian’s father maintains that the teacher was there in the room and did nothing to reprimand the aids who were abusing his son; the school claims that they can’t prove the teacher was in the room, in spite of hearing several female voices on the recording. A father and mother in Washington are outraged after their 5-year-old son was sent home from school, and forced to carry a package of human feces. Attached to the bag was the note: “This little turd was on the floor in my room.” The result of this inappropriate behavior: teacher “reprimanded.” A school teacher in Washburn, Missouri refused to let a kindergartner go to the restroom, and then forced her to sit in her own feces for fifteen minutes. The teacher asked students to go to the bathroom before a math test, and then refused to let the little girl leave during the test. The six-year-old, who tended to get nervous around test times, was unable to keep herself from evacuating her bowels, but was told to remain seated until test time was over. She nervous girl was covered from hip to foot in diarrhea. Result: teacher “instructed in sensitivity.” Five- year old Gabriel of Indiana suffered verbal abuse at the hands of his teachers. After months of complaining by his parents with no action being taken, they sent their son in with a hidden digital recorder. They obtained proof that the teacher berated him in front of the class, asking if the class wanted him in the room, telling him even his friends don’t want him around. This went on for 149 days. Result: teacher put on paid administrative leave. Parents of Cheyenne of Ohio sent in a recorder with their 14 year old special needs child for four days. This is what they heard: “You are such a liar. It’s no wonder you don’t have any friends, no wonder nobody likes you. You need to do something to get rid of that belly. You don’t do enough at home but sit and watch TV all night and all weekend. Get you parents and go for a walk…I know you failed that test, I don’t even need to grade it, just keep it.” Result: teacher’s aid was fired, teacher on unpaid suspension. Also from New Jersey at a special education center: fifteen-year old Julio was subjected to this: “nobody gives a f*** about you, you tard. I will kick your a** from here to kingdom come ‘til I’m 80 years old!” There are no “two sides to every story” in these cases. The audio recordings go on for hours and hours, and it is clear that these teachers are, quite simply, horrible human beings. They should be fired and never allowed to teach again. Tenure and “special” circumstances make no difference. No child should have to be subjected to this kind of treatment. On that note, as a mother of six, I have never had any time that I believed a teacher was bullying my child. We are very blessed in our area to have many qualified and compassionate teachers. However, Stuart Twemlow, a psychiatrist who directs the Peaceful Schools and Communities Project at the Menninger Clinic in Houston, says that the problem is much more prevalent than we believe. According to his new study, published in The International Journal of Social Psychiatry, more than 70% of teachers believed that bullying by teachers was isolated. But 45% admitted to having bullied a student. Some teachers (of the 116 in the study) became extremely angry simply because Twemlow had the nerve to ask the question. Twemlow, a former high school teacher, says he’s not out to bash teachers. "There are a few bad apples, but the vast majority of teachers go beyond the call of duty. They're very committed and altruistic." A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2005 showed “correlation” between teachers who bully and the success (or, in this case, lake thereof) of its students. No kidding? With all of the “bullying” programs in schools, perhaps it’s time to offer such a program for teachers.