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 daughter and her friend quit choir with permission of the choir teacher. 4 weeks later the choir teacher meets with my daughter’s home room teacher. They both proceed to say, in front of the class, “we have two dishonest kids in the class room.” The choir teacher takes my daughter and her friend and makes them stand in front of the other students stating they r dishonest and they have to stand there through choir practice.

  2. I can relate in so many ways. I got abused really bad in the state of Mississippi by my principal at the age of 5,and every since than it damaged me in so many ways. Ive been trying to get an attorney, no one seems to help. im 23 now and its so many things I can say. But ill say this if anyone can stop abuse from teachers,principals etc from damaging this people we would greatly appreciate it. Lets stand up and stop the abuse.

  3. My son who now is 15 has been bullied by teachers since 7th grade.Because of this,he learned to lash out.To make a long story,he is being bullied til this day by teachers.He was diagnosed with an explosive disorder.Having this labeled on him,teachers feel to be on guard.He is on IEP which the school isnt complying with.Because the school does not want to deal with him,he missed all of 8th grade and passed him anyway.Once up at the high school because he missed so much of school,he was supposed to stay back in 9th.They passed him anyway.He is so behind and is having so many struggles in school due to this.Now they are offering him a GED!They do not want to help him.They want him off his merrily way and not deal with him.I am outraged!Should I sue the school for doing this?

  4. I am being humiliated by my Principal who joined just 5-6 months ago! She always calls me in her office and says the things which make me cry, And when i start crying, She say’s rudely that stop these fake tears. She calls my dad to school on everything and says bad about me to him. I said her that i can’t attend the extra classes due to transport problem, because the driver of the van is not good and i can’t go alone with him bcuz it’s not safe, but she’s still forcing me to stay in the extra classes and go with the same driver everyday.
    Today there was a test and i am really sick so i didn’t went to school and around 9:55 she sent a van at my home to pick me up, and when i was not going the driver said me to call the school. She’s humiliating me so much which is making me away from my study and i daily cry which is making me sick day by day.

    • This is horrible. Try to not to let it get to you instead, focus on the positivity of you doing well and better. Show her you will not let her intimidate you. Keep your chin up high. Whatever she says, let it out the other ear. Be strong. Let her know her poor behaviors will not hurt you and she will stop. You cant change her but you can definitely change yourself. Show her you are the better person. Someday karma will come to her 100 times worse, so let karma go after her. You focus on you and be happy because you deserve to be happy.

  5. I am in HS and my math teacher is discussing my 504 plan in class in the presence of other students. I am mortified by this. My mom has asked her to stop, but she seems to want to humiliate me. At the end of one of our last tests, she announced to the class that everyone needed to put their pencils down, their time was up, but the students with 504s and IEPs would be receiving more time. Other teachers never say this. She acknowledged saying these things to a VPrinc. and said that she was “not required to keep the existence of my 504 plan confidential, only the dx in it.” How do we stop this? The bullying I deal with has increased dramatically this year. She also told me to take a less rigorous math class and said she expected me to end up with a “C”. I made an A in the 1st qtr. She said she is “having to lower her standards for me.”

  6. I am in ninth grade and my spanish teacher is rude. She made me stay after class one to talk to me and she would not give me a pass to my next class; I was late to it. She said that i do not do my work and i do (I have an A in the class). She said to do my work or else. Also, recently I got one answer wrong in class (normally I get them right) and she said that I do not study and that I need to study and do my work, to the class. I had trouble on submitting something online and i told her that I did and the administration told her too, and I still got in trouble and other people had the same problems and they did not get in trouble. What do I do?

  7. Hi, I am in middle school, but my math teacher is very rude. She has thrown things at me (Pencils, computer mouses, etc). Yet, no matter how many times I tell her, the other teachers, my parents, principals, superintendents, etc, They say, “Oh, you are just trying to get out of class”. My school even has a police officer that works there, and even he REFUSES to help me. What’s even worse is that it is only me and one of my friends that she does this to.

  8. I was bullied by my college externship professor. what can i do or who can i turn to? 8 staff members of the hospital that i externed at wrote a letter acknowledging that I did a great job and that I was in fact bullied by this professor. I gave the letter to my program director as well as the Dean of the school and it was tossed aside and nothing was ever followed up on. What can I do?

  9. Hi I’m Danny. My case is the principal is the (BULLY) so I can’t wright a letter to the principal. My son is 11 y/o, just today suspended for 3 days. My son & 3 others had a little food fight in the lunch room, the other 3 got off but not my son. He was called stupid librarian & the principal and other things. He also last week got suspended. He was in argument with another student, the kid hit him in the eye. I brought my son the next day to talk to the principal. He suspended MY SON ! just to show us his authority or (POWER). Who can I talk to?

  10. My son was 3 years old and was violently physically abused by his teacher ( kindergarten) on more than one occasion. Since we only had his word no one would take the case. The other teacher in the classroom first stated she saw the abuse happen to my son but then later recanted her story. This teacher gets away with hurting my son on multiple occasions and I live with this every day. We are still in the same county so we are treated as criminals by the school we attend. I don’t get to go on field trips or volunteer in my son’s classroom. We are watched and monitored each time we are on campus as if we are deviants of society. The school board did not even report the abuse to the authorities when I told them about it. I made the call. I feel lost and alone most of the time. This teacher taught for 30 yrs and she abused 7 kids we know of.

  11. My kids went from a school made in heaven to one whose entire staff were the spawn of Satan! The inmates were running the asylum. The woman on the front desk only acknowledged you if you brought food or cussed louder than the students passing through. The sixth grade teacher stressed my child to the point of sleeplessness and physical illness. Now my other child has one (an English teacher) who won’t pronounce students names (mine in particular) or allow them to participate in class activities. When I met with her she wouldn’t allow my child to complete a sentence and she interrupted me continuously. As I attempted to ask what should be done in order to move forward she said that this meeting was over and “get out of my class!” In front of my child. I needed to leave at that point because I saw first hand what my child had been going through. Disgraceful!

  12. I am so frustrated with school. I have contacted the school counseler, principal, and superintendents office. The teacher happens to be the daughter of someone on school board. The teacher has openly admitted to me in email of ostracizing my son. This was the point I talked with superintendents office which sent me back the principal. I feel like every step I take to get my son not to be bullied by his teacher, she takes it out on him more by saying he’s doing things wrong in class which he swears he doesn’t do wrong. I am not sure what to do at this point because if I take it to the school board, I know I wont get anywhere.

  13. Hi. My daughter has a 504 and we live in California. She was diagnosed with A.D.D. when she was 5 and has had a 504 since then. She will be a senior in high school this year. The English department lacks the 504 skill, understanding and ability to work with my daughter. It has been difficult. Last year the teacher said she was teaching multi-sensory and modifying assignments/tests. But she was unable to produce such accommodations when asked. Instead sent me a letter on fancy letter head with verbiage from her 504. A parent of a child with a 504 don’t I have the right to pick her teacher? My daughter will have this teacher again this year!! If we do not want this teacher, which we don’t, what does the school legally have to do to fix this? I am considering BYU independent study online courses. It’s expensive!!! HELP!

  14. If you like to abuse children just a get a job as a teacher of the disabled . It’s legal then it seems . Ask any parent of autistic student. More often than not untrained bully’s called teachers have abused the majority of them . The abuse is unchecked and rampant. And protected by your taxpayer dollars paying for their lawyers. Plus they will pay you to abuse them .

  15. When my daughter was in second grade I was going through a divorce. Her second grade teacher had a son that was representing my now ex husband in the divorce. A long time teacher began making comments to my second grader. When they drew a picture of their homes she told my daughter that she would not be able to keep living our house and told her draw a picture of a mobile home and told her she will have to move. The teacher also made derogatory comments to my daughter about me. Her husband at the time was a principal for the same school complaints would have fallen on deaf ears. My daughter now in college still comments about how horrible this teacher was to her.

    I did not know about this abuse until nearly a year later when my daughter told me when we ran into that teacher.

  16. My son is at the end of second grade and has been bullied by his teacher most of the school year. Back in october they told me he was acting out and trying toleave the classroom. They put you in a very warm padded room and lock the door on bad kids. I met with the school, the teacher the principal, the school shrink and social. Ive been to so many meetings ive used all my vaction time. I believed them when they said it was my sons fault. I took priveledges away from him at home, grounded him, moved up his bed time. Mid may i went on a field trip with him and saw how his teacher screamed at not only him but all the boys. She brought 5 boys to tears. The school never tells you there are 3 other kids with the same issues.i feel horrible i didnt believe him. I tried to pull him out of school and they threatened to call dcf. Cant afford lawyer

  17. My daughter has ADHD and is under an IEP in High School. Yesterday her IEP Case Manager threatened her and belittled her while she was in class. She forgot to return an assessment he asked for and came in her class very upset. He said things like, “after you poop in the morning, do you need your mom to remind you to wipe”, and, “Well, I guess I will just have to “forget” that you signed up for summer school”. And this case manager is the Coach of the High School football team. I want to do something other than complain about it. This was a direct attack/bullying against her disability since being forgetful is part of ADHD. Don’t they train the “case managers”? What can I do?

  18. The sad reality is school is a business. As a parent if you approach administrators with these difficulties, they will much rather verbally appease you and do nothing, rather than taking on the teachers union. The only way to seek results is with a threat against their purse strings, using a lawyer and threats of civil action.

    If a peace officer were to violate someones civil rights, under the color of the authority offered the position, It would violate 42 U.S.C. § 1983. There is much attention given to “bad” police that abuse their authority, yet not as much to “bad” teachers.
    In example, a previous post pointed out their childs front pants pockets being riffled through by a teacher. Is this a potential violation of the students 4th amendment rights under the color of authority granted the teacher? get a lawyer and be heard.

  19. My son attends a prestigious private school who is known for its arrogance. A teacher in highschool has told my son in class with peers that he is the laziest person he knows. He has told him, he will fail in his chosen career of business. He has told a student in the class that he would fail my son. When my son asked him to stop giving him “xxxx”, he challenged my son to get out of his seat and tell it to his face. He and 4 other staff members berated my son for over an hour about a school project he did. The project was about giving student’s a voice and allowing them to give constructive feedback like the Universities do to improve teacher performance. What should I do about this? I seriously would like to sue the school as they have violated FERPA laws.

    • Kimberly: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) ensures that parents have access to their children’s educational records and to protect the privacy rights of parents and children by limiting access to these records without parental consent. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ferpa.index.htm

      Have you documented your concerns in writing to the teacher / school administration? Have you requested a meeting to discuss your concerns?

  20. I am a teacher and have never been accused of bullying until last year from a parent who has a history of accusing her child’s teachers of bullying. Simply put asking the student multiple times to open a book, even nicely, to this parent is bullying. What should the penalty be for parents like that?
    The danger is also parent like that diminish the credibility of parents who have legitimate complaints of teacher bullying.

    • Welcome to the world of parents, where we have to worry, just like you do now.

  21. My son is a third grader that is constantly being harrassed by his teacher. My son is not a behavior problem and is very easy going. He is a very happy kid. My son is a little naive for his age. In this day and age, my husband and I appreciate his “naivity” however, at times he does not even realize what his teacher is doing. But his overall personality has changed due to her bullying. The other day he came to me and said, “I feel like nobody wants me.” He breaks down and cries very easily. I am going forward today, I am NOT the one to tolerate bullying of any kind!

  22. My daughter was struggling with trig back in 10th or 11th grade, her teacher then was no help. My daughter graduated from college, made the honor roll. Today this very same teacher came to her work, my daughter is a Vet Technician, and was talking negatively about her to her employer, saying “can’t believe she made it” or something to that effect, it’s been 9 yrs, this teacher is nothing but a bully and many students at school now have had issues with her. What can I do?

  23. My daughters science teacher (male) is really bothering and bullying her. Shes a very polite and shy child and does what she should to participate in class so i dont know why this is a continuous problem. If she is talking as well as the whole class is, he gives her a detention. If someone is laughing that sits near her, she’s the one who gets kicked out of the class room. She comes home nearly every day with tears in her eyes. What do i do? She’s only in fifth grade.

  24. The problem with dealing with a jerk in the world does nor compare to dealing with a teacher that is a bully. When you are in a school setting you can not very well walk away or ignore the teacher- class leader!. No child should have to deal with a Teacher that is making it hard on them. The child becomes very frustrated and begins to act up. You can only push some one into a corner for so long. The issue of Teachers being bullies needs to be addressed a lot more then it is. We read all about the firm stand schools are taking against bullying – but those same standards are not being put into place when the Teacher is the bully- it needs to be stopped. We do not have to accept it and learn to deal. It’s not acceptable.

  25. My middle daughter was followed into the restroom by the principle and she tried telling me it was part of her behavior mod plan, her pe teacher stuck her hands in my daughters front pockets of her pants while she was wearing them because another girl claimed she stole her money and ipod, this list could go on forever and NOTHING was ever done…now they have decided my next younger daughter is turning out to be a poor listener because they have given her 4 detentions this year for chewing gum BUT other students continue to do it. What can we do?

  26. Whats happened to me is like wayyyyyyyyy worse comparing to your stories! So I ask my teacher several times for help and she says no. she sent me to the science teachers room who she’s friends with. Then the science teacher snapchats my dumb work to the math teacher and captions it stupid! Then she calls my math teacher and said “this girl has no hope” .. Then I was asked to go see my math teacher again and I thought she was going to clear my doubts but instead she throws my papers at me in rage and says i’m useless. Do I need to report this!! I really didn’t exaggerate this one bit.

  27. Thank you. My son’s teacher called him a jerk in class infront of his peers. Long story but Im looking for help on how to deal with it.

  28. Tina…had this problem with my step son. We ultimately had to remove him from his school, his teacher was doing so much damage that it would be hard to communicate with my son when I picked him up he was always angry. Document absolutely anything and everything you can and call a lawyer, see if there is some kind of legal assistance that can help you file a complaint against the schoolf or allowing it and against the teacher that is bullying your child. It’s not an easy journey and takes diligence, but when you are fighting for the rights of someone who can’t ultimately fight for themselves and it’s you child….you would be surprised as to how resouceful you can become….start googling information, things your curious about, start digging and see what you find…good luck!

  29. I am at my witts end with my daughter’s Spanish teacher. All year long Isabelle (my daughter) has been bullied and berated by this woman. So I sit down with the teach, principal and guidance…nothing came out of the meeting which was two weeks ago…today and everyday since my daughter has come home angry, frustrated and in tears because of this one teacher. Even though this woman looked me in my face and said I like your daughter she needs to listen more…ok…so we literally seperate Isabelle from the other student’s in the room and still no difference, she still belittels, berates and verbally whips my daughter not only in the period that she has with her, but through out the school day when Isabelle might see her, and the principle aint any better…they back up their teachers no matter what….time to go to the big boys! I tried!

  30. Hello. My son has autism and is in the 5th grade. he has 2 paras. he does great with the morning para! But the afternoon one seems to not know how to work with a child with autism. I have tried to talk to the school but they will not listen to me. I feel this teacher is bullying my son. How do I find out what his rights are?

  31. I am at a loss my son is in a predominantly white school and he is harassed by the teachers. I didn’t automatically think race until the teacher thought it was funny that one of the students said he couldn’t sit near her because he was black. Now it is the next school year and my son has been in school for 2 days. Day one: he was screamed at for tying his shoe. Day 2: he came home saying that the teacher got into his face practically touching nose to nose and yelled at him… When I try to talk to the teachers they treat me like I am a monster or something. They roll their eyes and deny all. I love the idea of recording this but it seems that they have this hatred for my son all the way up the chain to the top gun in the school. He is only 6 and shouldn’t have to deal with this.

  32. We need HELP!!!!!
    My son is in Kindergarten, has only been going for about 3 weeks now and since day 1 he has ended up in the principles office because the teacher does not want to deal with him. My husband and I have met with the teach and the principal at different times. My son is now being evaluated for ADHD. I have been at the school twice when I have heard teacher yell at my son and even told me that “She just cant handle him anymore”. She has been teaching kindergarten for 17 years and I was shocked to hear this coming from her. She has given up on my son. From just being in the classroom for 20min, I could tell she disliked him and he “irritated” her. She pretends like he is not there. She did this while I was in the classroom. He has told me that he is scared of her and does not want to go to school. He is only 5 yrs old.

  33. I have the same problem with a bully teacher. He actually failed my daughter and prevented her from graduating high school. He told her on the last day of classes 5 days before graduation saying she didn’t turn in her work. She had previously complained to principal because he was berating and bullying her .

  34. Teresa,
    I knew of a child that was starting to be treated like your son & finally the teacher got so mad she actually threw a chair at him. My friend was able to sue the school for asault & won. I think you may have a case here as well. No one should have to endure what your child has endured. You may need to get an attorney to help you at this point. You can try to set up a meeting first but bring a professional in with you that knows your son’s disability & see if you can come up with a plan. If not you may have to go to an attorney.

  35. “Justice For my son”
    My Child Was Bullied, Belittled, Labeled, Segregated, Harassed, Embarrassed, Denied access to check out a library book & class work for the last five months of school. Then the last two weeks of school was told he has to attend mandatory summer school. After hearing that he finally voiced his feelings, he told the Principal that it’s not fair! Not fair because the Reading teacher did not give him the help he needed & wouldn’t let him check out a library book. How could he excel with out given opportunity or help he needed. The principal became angry and aggressive, he grabbed my Son by his arm and my Son told him to let him go. He did not. He then grabbed his other arm, twisting both of his arms behind his back. He had to be told by the Asst Principal to let him go. Asst Principal got my son away. My Son was sent home!

  36. Sharon, Thank you for you advice. I really appreciate it. My child has been through such a difficult year. He is even having health issues that are because of his treatment. I am so entirely sick myself, to have had to watch him come home everyday so upset! I am contacting a lawyer today. I don’t know what else to do. I have pleaded for help from the administration ofc. Only to get my son more retaliation & punishment. I have never seen any situation like this we are dealing with this year. I appreciate your advice. Thank you Gigi

  37. Michael, This is devastating! I have begged for the schools help. It is the end of the year. I was just made aware that my son has been denied access to check out a library book for over 5 months. Not denied access by the librarian. Denied access by his Reading Teacher. She has been well aware of his weakness in Reading. So much has happened this year. My son has even become sick. Because he just can’t take this treatment any longer. Just today he had to turn around and come back home while on the way to school. He has Yet Another bloody nose & sick to his stomach. We are seeing a doctor & specialist due to his stomach issues. I am really tired of watching my son be treated so badly! I’ve contacted the Board of Education, and a attorney. I don’t know what else to do…. Maybe next I’ll have to contact the news. It’s truly frustrating!

  38. To Denise***
    I’m In!!! I’m going through a huge issue with my child and a teacher who has really affected his learning this year. He’s been belittled, harassed, embarassed, punished extensively, segregated, denied access to the school library. This is a Reading teacher! She’s well aware of his weakness in Reading. I’ve begged for the schools help until I’m blue in the face! I’ve gone up the chain of command. Collected & documented every situation. I have other parents, students, teachers, and staff witnesses. I’m in! What do yku suggest?
    Thanks, Teresa

  39. OK LISTEN UP!! I am going through the same crap, the only way is to come together and pass a law that protects our children against higher up bullying .. WHOS IN? I say we take this to our representatives and show them the abuse that is out there, HIB law is kid on kid there is no protection for our children because of there union .. they are not above the law.. Someone needs to do something!! Apparently this behavior is everywhere!!

  40. Gigi, It is obvious that this teacher is not trained on the needs of spec ed children or children with differences or she is just mean. You are correct in bringing this up to everyone. Have you had a IEP meeting to discuss this? This way you may request a solution to the problem. If they refuse they must put the reason in writing to you. Harrassment is very serious & I think they would take it seriously & do something. If not you may have to take legal action. A simple fix might be to remove the child & put him into a different class with an easy going teacher. This may be a personality clash as well. I have actually moved my child to a different school within the school system to get away from a teacher similar to this. No matter what we tried to do they could not work together. The new school was great for him.