When Teachers Bully

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What do we do when our children are bullied by teachers? My son has a teacher who actually calls the kids wieners and makes fun of them if they are struggling. He has a mug and sign in the classroom that say “I see stupid people.”

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. You see it more often in middle school and high school. This teacher is allowed to continue because the principal or superintendent don’t really see the behavior as a problem. How you handle it depends in part on the age of the students.

If elementary school, your strategy needs to be… different than high school. Here is a general strategy. But, it will not be as effective if this is happening in high school – people tend to believe that older kids need to learn how to deal with jerks. Most of us had a few jerks when we were in school. It was viewed as a learning experience.

If you go to this page, you’ll find articles and resources that will help you deal with bullying behavior at school:

Advise the Administrators

Put any issues in writing.  Write a nice polite letter where you advise the principal and superintendent about what is happening (the problem) and what you think should be done about it (your solution).

The tone of your letter should not be complaining but advising them of this problem so they can take action. If you have a copy of our From Emotions to Advocacy book, you will find sample letters in the book that will help you.

Next Step: The School Board

If this doesn’t result in a change and you can’t get the administrators to take responsibility, meet with your school board member and educate him/her. You may want to invite your school board member to have breakfast or lunch with you, then describe the problem. If you take this step, it’s very important that you have documented the problems and your attempts to resolve them in writing.

Make copies of the publication below about Harassment and provide copies to the principal, superintendent, and school board members.

There are some excellent publications from the U. S. Dept of Education and Office of Civil Rights about this issue:

  • An excellent resource for parents, teachers and others who are trying to protect kids is a publication from the Office of Civil Rights, Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools. It includes a section on the definition of harassment based on disability and provides step-by-step guidance for developing a district’s written anti-harassment policy.
  • Free From EdPubs.org (ED001366B) Preventing Bullying: A Manual For Schools and Communities. This document addresses the problem of bullying in schools and defines bullying, discusses the seriousness of this behavior and the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach. The Manual presents strategies for teachers, students, and parents to use when dealing with bullying situations. It also provides examples of innovative and successful approaches used by schools in different parts of the country.

Get Support from a Child Psychologist

Get a child psychologist to meet with the person who has power and describe the damage this guy is doing to the children.  Write a follow up letter after the meeting.

However, if this is happening to older high school kids, you are not as likely to get a response that will satisfy you.

When I had jerk teachers, my parents let me know they believed in me, that they agreed the person was a jerk, that the school year would soon be over and I’d be free. The fact that they believed in me, and agreed that the person’s behavior was bad helped because I valued their opinions more than I valued the bad teacher’s opinions (or slogans on coffee cups). They also taught me that there are jerks in the world and I had to learn how to deal with them.

  1. My two children have been honor role students for years. Always. They get citizenship awards, art awards, etc. We moved last year to a small southern town. We’ve been treated quite hostile including being told they will run us out on a rail and they don’t like strangers. The kids here have grouped together and ignore, refuse to befriend and bully the kids. The teachers have called my daughter a Barbie bit@c, talked about her in front of her to other girls .. it’s horrific and the kids follow the adults behavior. My son has been hit almost daily and called a fat jew, etc. after many complaints in writing and by phone the school started targeting him. They put him in detention, saying he hit kids (when the kids hit him) and tell him he’s a bad kid. They’re ruining his school record.

  2. Parents, try teaching
    Is your child respectful?
    Do they do work in class?
    Do they put their name on it and turn it in?
    If you can’t answer yes, try teaching six preps per day
    Is 17 hours a day enough for a teacher to work?
    Might this effect how they relate?
    Support them!

    • Nope. You signed up for that when you choose this profession. This doesn’t give you or the any staff the right to be bully anyone. Can’t handle the job then it’s time for a career change.

    • If you cant handle the job, why stay? What good is it for you to stay and not be able to teach and get through to the students that means you are not meant to teach. Children are the future. Teachers are the educators. It is your job to make sure you instill intelligence and knowledge in them. If you cant find a way to make teaching fun so kids can absorb, you sre not doing your job properly?

  3. My son with ADHD/ dyslexia is in 6th grade and the following is an excerpt from my son’s teacher’s email. “lately he has also been misbehaving quite often. He keeps leaning back onto other students’ desks, shouting/blurting out in class, and being off task of assignments (laughing and goofing off). While he did these on occasion before, this is now almost non-stop. His behavior a few times this week alone has almost prompted me to ask him to leave my classroom as it was causing a huge disruption to the other students even with multiple warnings.” The teacher has previously given him lunch detention for similar behavior. Is this response acceptable? I see nothing but ADHD/LD symptoms which can be addressed with FBA/plan/accommodations.No ADHD behavior accommodation is in place in his IEP.

  4. I’m a HS student in 10th grade and my online health teacher is really disrespectful towards my 504. I’m wiling to admit that I was a bit lazy in the beggining of the year(even though I still got most of the work done)and I now need at least a C to pass the class. Even with everything I did this term, which out of all the assignments there was one not completed.(I turned one in a few days late)He gave me a 50% for it. I told him that my 504 allows me to turn in things late. I’ve never used my 504 until this, and he told me I was not being fair and that it was later than it was and I only talk and don’t do any of the work. I do talk(like the rest of the class)but I still did every assignment. He claims I can’t “use it as an excuse.” And gave me really dirty looks as if I’m stupid.

  5. My teacher hates me because I tell on her for illegally bringing up my IEP and when I told on her the first time for making fun of my hand writing she calmed down but then later on in the months she did it again and I told on her to the principals and my mom she called and the principals talked to me and he talked to her well she confronted me saying that I need to stop telling the principals and my mom and now there is a ongoing investigation and she thinks I want her fired I wish for no one to be fired she doesn’t realize that I just don’t want to be felling stressed and hurt because I take it out on my family

  6. My sons 1st hour teacher, a 8th grade history teacher told my son ” I will kick your ass” in front of the class. My son filed a statement and text me what was going on, I called the school and had to leave a message for the principal who finally called me at the end of the day. I’ve asked that my son be removed from that class and that I’d like to know what consequences this teacher will have for bullying my child. No call back as of yet and I’ve called 2x, my son was sent to this teachers class this morning and I’m still waiting to get a call. I’m going to call the superintendent and I’ll call the news and anyone else! If they hold kids to the Zero tolerance for bullying, teachers need/should be held at a higher standard!

    • Chelsea,

      I’d like to know the outcome of your horrid ordeal. Had a student made that threat to another student, he or she would be suspended from school. Why is the punishment different for a teacher? Also, did you contact the police or local government representative? Also, how is your son now doing?

  7. My boy is in 6th grade in South Dakota. Two years ago the bullying started and has progressively gotten worse. It stated with a counselor speaking with him calling him names. I got the superintendent involved because the principal would do nothing. Turns out the super wouldn’t do anything either, just not allow her to seem him one on one. My boy stated getting targeted with his teacher, being called out when several kids are involved. The principal started doing the same, even plotting the kids against each other. Such as ‘it was better when you were not here’ or ‘you ruin it for everyone’ started being said by the teachers in front of the class. The latest is both the vice and principal and bus owner are verbally using their power and bullying him as a team!

    • It does sound like it’s time to seek legal counsel. Also, you all should get together as parents to demand changes in the school administration.

  8. I’m 18. I have had 5 young men starting stuff with me. My mom went up to the school 3 times. Nothing that was said changed it. I was confronted by the group, 5 on 2. I was threatened and pushed, my friend was not because he is a very large individual. The school still did nothing. 2 days later I was sucker punched and clearly put my hands up to show i wasn’t fighting. The kid then put me in a choke hold and caused me to pass out. I had to go the hospital. My mom filed reports on the boy. They then started on my little sister while i was gone the next day. My mom went to the school, while she was there my girlfriend was then threatened. My mom went to the head principal. He yelled at her and claimed it my mom’s fault for coming to the school to help me. Now I’am being “Classed 3”. I have done nothing wrong. So what do i do?

    • You need to file a lawsuit. Now. Verbal harrasment physical assault. Probably could file for a hate crime if your girlfriend is a similar race than you. Get law enforcement involved now.

  9. My Grandkids are being threaten by the principal, that she is calling the cops and SRS if they are late. They can not help it if their parents will not get up to take them! What can they do?

  10. What can a parent do if they have raised concerns about statements made by a teacher to children and the school has thus far ignored the parents concern and the teacher actually threatened the parent? The parent was told by this teacher “Ms X, you do not want to pursue this further, you will not like what will happen if you do”. The child is not directly being harassed or threatened but it could impact the child because this was a vague “threat” and the parent is concerned about what exactly this teacher means by this.

    • I have learned from experience, get a recording tape for whoever you complain to.get a vopy of your complaints. If you could get actual evidence first in writing or recorded, it would be best. First go up the chain of command. Let me say first wont make a difference because they school doesn’t ever want to say they are doing wrong. But you have to do this to show yout efforts in getting a resolution. Go to Principal first,then regional superintendent,board superintendent, skip state education board and go straight to u.s. department of education. Don’t forget to record. That is your right.

  11. As a member of my school board I surprised that in a small school, classes of ten students or less, my child is bullied…by his school teachers and administrator. Yes, the staff! They repeatedly use him and a friend of similar kind temperament to mitigate their role as teachers/principle. Last year I had assurances that would change. It never did. This year it’s ticked up again; in language arts he was randomly picked to be read-buddy with the kid that is behaviorally violent/unwanted/low achieving.

    My story would reveal identity if I went on. Just let me add, this school has an art program because of funding from our family. Still they use him. How do I fix this?

    • Really? Low achieving/unwanted…REALLY? Sounds like your child is being given opportunitues to share, influence, be a leader and learn compassion. My advice- 1) take the money/power/prestige out of the equation. 2) insert humanity. 3) look at the situation from a different perspective

    • Stop the funding. If you didn’t perform well at work, you’d be terminated. As for the identity. don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Stop protecting the bullies. Gone are the days when a person is a teacher because he or she likes to teach and like children. Now, people are desperate for anything employment they can get and the school board doesn’t pay much. With that formula, you get junk!

  12. My son is having a problem with a teacher that he had last year for Spanish. At semester he switched out of her class to do track and the teacher took it personally and was mad. He is in 11th grade and never had a problem with any teacher. The Spanish teacher retired at the end of last year. He is taking a human relations class, everything was fine with that teacher, he had an A in the class. That teacher made an inappropriate answer to a student about sex and lost her job about 5 weeks ago. The teacher my son had for Spanish who retired came back to fill in and teach this class. This teacher has been such a problem. My son’s grade is very low now. She continually picks on him and others in the class, tells them they are stupid. If he asks a question, she tells him to shut up. Every day she makes a remark.

    • One of the most common factors that I’m finding with my research has to do with being close to retirement. In your case it seems to be the same. They know how to work the system! Also, retaliation has been a big issue. They know how to retaliate and how to get away with it. I finally was able to pull my son out of the class he was struggling in and his grade went from D-F up to a C in less than 10 days which was all the time he had left in that semester. Once we get his next grade from the new teacher, which should be an A, I’m am going to file a formal complaint with the district and try to get some action against the teacher. We tried working with the teacher for the entire semester and even hired a tutor and she still played with his grade daily going from a D to an F. She even had the nerve to tell my son she was mad at him for going to the Vice Principal. My suggestion to you is to get your child out of that class ASAP! If your child has friends in the class that is witness to teachers behavior or is also being treated poorly try to get them to speak up as well.

  13. Taking steps to stop your child from being bullied by a teacher does not always work. My daughter-in-law went to the school to resolve the issue. That evening, CPS showed up at the house, they where called by someone at the school claiming the child was being molested by the father, in retaliation for making a complaint against the teacher. Now the father has this in a record for the rest of his life even though it was not founded. And was told nothing could be done even if it was unfounded and the call was made out of retaliation.

  14. My son is 10. He has long hair. His favorite subject is science. Recently we have had to put him into counseling for some self esteem issues over the summer. He is also going to be getting a psycho educational evaluation done to see if he needs extra help in spelling and math. But science he excels. Well his science teacher has been asking him in front of the class if he needs Barrett’s for his hair and embarrassing him. She would not say this to a girl. He now shakes when he goes to her class. I have contacted the school twice.

    • Heather, you wrote, “I have contacted the school twice.” How did you contact them? Who did you contact? When you contact the school about a problem like this, you need to put your concerns in writing and request a meeting with a school administrator who has power to cause change.

  15. I had a thing as childhood were I would sway side to side when listening to music. I guess it became prevalent that when I was in the first grade my teacher decided it must have been inappropriate or something but I really don’t think it was disruptive since she never really told me to stop so I probably must have went doing it without knowing otherwise I’m sure I would have made an effort to stop even at such an age.

  16. My son is being bullied by his teacher. He was called a slacker when the only thing that he did was forget his schedule at home. Then the teacher told him that he remembers his name and that him remembering his name is a bad sign. The first incident I told my son and myself to just be patient with the teacher, but this is the second time, and I am no longer letting his teacher’s actions pass without me saying or doing something.

  17. My grandson has been bullied for two years by many teachers. They call him a liar, throw his work down on his desk in front of him, tell lies about him. All are working together against him. He cries saying he wants to kill himself and not to go back to school. I’m so afraid they have messed him up for life. He is autistic. He couldn’t explain to us. He has a learning disability. I think they should have cameras in the class room like that, the teachers in that class argue with each other in front of the kids, they talk about each other cause they talk about a teacher to me. It’s a shame you would treat a child like that. I’m not going to stop until I prove what they’re doing. We have called the school board (Upstate New York) and nothing has happened. These teachers have no business being in school. I saw the camera when the bus driver got up screaming in his face but the principal seems to have thought that was ok. I need some help with this, some one please help me.

    • I feel so bad for all of you except Eric. This is what you signed up for. Why make excuses. Quit your teaching job or commit to change things for the better for these unfortunate children being bullied by people whose jobs it is to help. It’s your duty! My son is Autistic, ADD, High Anxiety. He is being bullied by an aide in an “Emotional Support” Classroom.He has had his paper tore because his name was not on it. Repeatedly told to quit acting like a 2 yr. old or he will not have any friends. Repeatedly told he has a sad life. I had a meeting with the school. I was apologized and told it should have never happened. I was also told the aide is being reprimanded and it is being handled internally. My son is uncomfortable and upset because he still has to be around this aide. This is crazy. Our children are harder to deal with Yes but they need all the more love and understanding. They did not ask to be this way.

    • I have an autistic son as well. It really is much more of a challenge to get information from your child about this bullying. Check out webMD.com “Teachers who bully”. Amazingly some 45% of teachers admitted to bullying students.Have a face to face meeting with the teacher without your child present and see what their side of the story is. If nothing improves or the principle takes the side of the teacher as they often do then escalate your complaint to the school superintendent and/or the school board. If you want an investigation into the matter at the highest level then contact your state Board of Education and demand one. Best wishes to you and your son.

  18. My son has been bullied by teachers through his whole schooling. He was humiliated because the teacher thought he was lying about not having a pencil. His IEP is for emotional disturbance, though he has been diagnosed with ADHD but the school will not recognize it. Per the IEP, my son’s behaviors are his choice (hypothesis, avoidance and control) and so they told me that it was proper punishment to humiliate and that would correct the bad behavior. I don’t understand how teachers can think that negative thinking will save the world. Well, most kids, I think, probably end up dropping out, so the child is no longer the teacher/school’s problem.I wonder, do teacher’s do it on purpose?

    • The school should accept the diagnosed of ADHD under OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENT where ADHD is listed as a medical condition and a mental disability. Talk to your doctor and school district about it.

  19. It’s hard to run a classroom, teachers do a lot of talking & often get huge amounts grief thrown their way. Emotions can get raw, words can be said that bite more than intended. Not that it’s ok but there’s a learning curve to teaching, & some days are better than others. Personally I’d want to know if I hurt someones feelings so I could apologize. Teachers are isolated unaffected human beings. Often a teacher is assigned an impossible schedule. No excuse but if the school sets you up to fail then then you can’t win.

    • Eric their is no excuse for no teacher to bully a child, they should have teachers train enough and enough train aids in the class to help out not mistreating kids and think their never going to get caught its just sick to know anyone would do that.

  20. My son who is in 3rd grade (ASD,ADHD, Anxiety) has been bullied by his teacher from the beginning of the yr. I have been documenting it and thought it had stopped when we worked on his new IEP. I was so wrong, it was just a pause. His new IEP was completed in February and it has all started up again as bad if not worse. His anxiety is so high and I can’t get anyone at the school to listen. Most things put in place to help in the classroom in his IEP are not being done. It’s as if he has no IEP. i will be taking the next step onto the dept of education locally and in the state. I am looking into homeschooling him the remainder of the year. My heart is breaking for him.

    • Hi Denise, I was just reading your comment and I can totally relate. I am going through a similar situation as well, I wanted to know how everything went for you after talking to the Department of education? Did they help you out? Are u doing home school?

  21. My child was going to school ga on 10/28/14 the male teacher physically fraught my child, slam her on the ground injuring her neck and shoulder. he was also sexual harrassing her in schoolrubing on her calling her Bae/ Baby telling her he’s not married and like her not the teacher next door them I press charges on them then that went to press charges on my child in juvenile on my child then the officers tell me I can’t take out a report on the teacher and officers of the law. this school not only abuse my child but over 5 kids I know of mentally and physically. I need a lawyer.

  22. Reading these entries so sad!! This is why our education system is broken no one is listening, watching, caring for our children when we send them off to school. No one will listen to parents because it is all about job security for the school staff. There is no way to protect a child as always ends with the child being called a liar and troublemaker.

  23. My son is 12 years old, is in the 6th grade and has ADHD with hypersensitivity. He gets good grades and is very shy. He’s kind and compassionate, doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He is the type of kid all the bully’s would pick on. His problem is that he hates school, and is Very anxious when he is there, to the point where he’s panicking. He didn’t have this problem until starting middle school. He would come home looking stressed out, anxious, exhausted, and sad. I could tell he had been crying at some point in his day. I kept on him about telling me what was wrong and he finally told me that he thinks his teachers hate him! Come to find out, he has a teacher who is sarcastic, intimidating and mean. We had a teachers meeting but since then she has yelled at the whole class saying “Are you stupid”? Back to school I go!

  24. We have a BULLY Situation NATIONWIDE. Something has to be done!!!

    Parents need to Unite

  25. My science teacher asked everyone to put there hand up if they don’t like me or if they don’t like me because i swing on my chair etc. I don’t even know what i did! It was very humiliating and i had to hide my tears for less embarrassment. He was laughing and everything. It happened at the beginning of the day so i was left feeling terrible for the rest of the day. I hate him.

  26. My children’s principal had her kids taken away by DFS and now since she is running a school, me and my kids wrestle an goof off and if they happen to have one little bruise on them she calls DFS on me. How is it right a principal can ask your child over a hundred questions about what goes on at home….It kind of scares my kids that she always asks them stuff about their personal life. What can I do about this?

  27. Children do not go to school to be bullied and Harassed by their teacher. This is a Kid That makes Bs in this class and the teacher still bullies the child, what do you do about that?

  28. I need help with reporting that my 2girls were Sexually Hurt everyday since school had started and the it happened at school. Another child had hurt them while older children just watch! I had no idea until finally they had a mental break down! Well at the beginning of school I had talked to the principal and bus driver that there were some kissing going on and of course they blamed it on my child. It has came out in the wash this other child has been Sexually physically molesting my girl! Both my girls has told principal and bus driver. Nothing was ever done! My kids are currently out of school during this situation and I need higher officials to help! This small town click are thick and the bus driver is still watching children being molested and the principal told my kids it was there faults! Not one person contacted, laws not doing.

  29. I am from a small town and everybody knows everybody and their business. My son has been harassed by a teacher in 9th grade. The teacher called him “Lazy.”…When my son told me this, I went straight to the school and talked to the vice-principal.. I told the vice-principal there was no justification for this teacher to call my son lazy! He was making Straight A’s in this teacher’s class. I had a meeting with the principal, teacher, and counselor. The teacher had the nerve to point his finger in my face during our conversation. I don’t understand why the principal did not intervene. The next year, the counselor was calling my son a liar in a different situation. How dare this counselor demean my son in this manner.. My son is a Junior this year. This same teacher who called him lazy is acting up again. School told us to move forward.

  30. I am from a small town in Texas & we have a huge problem! Our Elem/Jr High principal is a narcissistic bully to students, parents & even teachers & other school employees. It has been going on for the last 7-8 years. Complaints after complaints have been made all resulting in hitting a brick wall followed by retaliation usually against the student. Many parents have transferred their children out of district. Why has nothing been done? For starters the district superintendent is the principal’s husband, and then to top it off she is in outside business ventures with the president of the school board who just happens to be related to two other board members! The TEA is so underfunded and short staffed that they are just now starting to investigate but they are not really giving us much hope!