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What to Do When the Teacher Is the Classroom Bully

What To Do When the Teacher is the Classroom Bully

Bullying is a hot button issue in schools across the nation, but what do you do when the bully in the classroom is your child’s teacher? Circle of Moms members whose kids have experienced this say it’s time to take action.

As a teacher, I used to be a little skeptical when I heard other parents complain about their child’s teacher employing humiliation or sarcasm in the classroom, but that stopped the year one of my own children was bullied by a teacher.  I learned that teacher bullying doesn't always involve direct humiliation, a fact evidenced by the variety of stories told by members of Circle of Moms communities.  

What Makes a Teacher a Bully?

One mom, who uses the screen-name “Loves My Kids," shares that last year her son was continually singled out by his teacher and “made fun in front of the class.” He started a new school, but the experience made him very hesitant even with this fresh start.


Mom Lisa C. tells a different, but equally upsetting, story. Her daughter’s teacher reportedly made bigoted remarks to the entire class. “I've thought about confronting the teacher during conferences, but we are concerned that our daughter may face the repercussions,” she shares.

Should You Talk to the Teacher First?

Amy T., who is both a mom and a teacher, asks that parents give teachers the benefit of the doubt in that regard. “A good teacher will not let feelings for the parents affect interactions with the student,” she says.  She advises speaking directly to the teacher before talking to other parents or going above the teacher’s head. These things can make a teacher defensive, Amy says, and perhaps, “more likely to ‘take it out’ on your child.”

Not all moms agree. Richelle H. thinks parents should start by talking to the principal or going to the superintendent.  Another Circle of Moms member, Patricia D., says plainly, “Contact the principal and file a formal complaint.”  


Other moms recommend a compromise between the two positions. Brandee M. suggests: “Schedule a meeting with the principal and the teacher to get the teacher’s side of the story. A parent’s first instinct is to protect their child, but you need to remain calm and gather all the facts before you proceed."

Keep Track and Keep Notes

In gathering those facts, Circle of Moms member Carol T. reminds parents to ask your child specific questions to get a better sense of the situation, and to “document everything.”  

As a stickler about keeping phone contact logs, cc’ing letters and printing emails, I couldn’t agree more. When we met with our child’s principal and teacher, we were taken more seriously because I had created what Circle of Moms member Holly B. refers to as a “paper trail.”    

What all of these moms are describing is what I like to call the four  “D’s” of dealing with a difficult or bullying teacher:

  • Detect: Gather information by asking your child for details and examples of what’s going on. You may also want to ask the teacher to help you understand what your child is describing.
  • Document: Keep a contact log, keep track of emails, phone conversations and playground encounters. In Holly B's words: “Document, document, document.
  • Discuss: Schedule a meeting with the teacher and if that doesn’t bring results, with the principal.  Circle of Moms members advise moms to continue talking until somebody hears you, even if it means going to the school board.
  • Dissent (in writing): File that formal complaint so that your concern is documented in the teacher’s personnel file.

If you get frustrated along the way, keep the words of member Flo W. in mind. She points out that while it’s probably not the first time your child's teacher has bullied a child, “You can try and make it the last time.”

Image Source: Richard Phillip Rücker via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
CoMMember13613634609691 CoMMember13613634609691 5 years
My daughter was a victim of teacher bullying as a first grader ~ I tried discussing with teacher, principal, and even the local police ~ NO ONE would help. . .because it was a Catholic school ~ I pulled her out of there and into therapy where she was diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome. Lesson learned ~ I will never allow her to go to a Catholic school again ~ Though Catholic/private schools are supposed to abide by state laws, it seems they don't really have to if they don't want to.
RosalindTorres46823 RosalindTorres46823 5 years
I have a story that is so complicated that it may need a hearing. I'm a grandparent raising school age kids One in the second,one in the six grade. I'm hated at the school,will that stop me from taking up for my kid.......NO!!!! My experiance at this school is that you must bully back stand your ground, listen to your children, follow-up with creditable complaints. I've learned that the boys will fight them bullys with their own merit ( straight A student know how to comport.) and granny bullying right back.
ToniaRapp ToniaRapp 5 years
Last Year my daughter in the 4th grade was continually "bullied" by her teacher. She would make my daughter cry in front of class and single her out. My daughter was always at the top of her class or advanced. She pretty much gave up and even though I had many meetings with the teacher, principal and superintendent, unless you have hard core proof like video (which is illegal if you do not have consent ) then nothing will be done. This year although she likes her teachers and classes, she struggles to excel due to the constant put downs and your not good enough's from the previous year. Keep track of the instances, contact the teacher, ( this could lead in worse repercussions as it did with my child), if that fails have a meeting with the principal, then even the superintendent. My childs teacher was really good at placing blame and backing out of a corner.....I wish you luck
EllenHauser EllenHauser 5 years
My daughter had bullies for teachers in several grades. Before you think that I'm biased against teachers, almost my entire family (including extended family) consists of teachers - and I'm a professor. I "get" the teacher side of the story. These teachers belittled, shamed, insulted students; gave private (and embarrassing) medical information about students to the entire classes; and one teacher actually shook and hit a student. Any parent who said anything - no matter how professionally or calmly - their child was targeted next. We continually went to the principal, who said his hands were tied by the union rules of that particular school district. I'm not against teachers unions - actually support them - but in this case they protected teachers who should not have been let near children. When things got to such a horrible point that the principal finally agreed to intervene in one situation with my daughter, I was publicly "dressed down" by a fellow teacher, on the sidewalk, with all sorts of people walking by. She yelled at me and told me the teacher did nothing wrong and it was all of us parents who were wrong. If I had to do it all over again? I would encourage the large group of parents who knew things were wrong to unite and refuse to give up until the bullying by teachers stopped - even if that meant we went as a group to the superintendent's office.
CoMMember13609865322716 CoMMember13609865322716 5 years
I was bullied by my grade three teacher (when i was 10 years old). It was used to separate all the kids into tables, depending on their grade, the 'stupid' table being at the front. She was nauseatingly nice to the 'top' table, and nasty and snide to us at the 'bottom' table. I used my defiance to work my way to the top table by the end of the year, and the change in her behaviour was dramatic, i believe she even credited my advancement to her skill, i credited it to proving her wrong. It has left me with scars (not the only scars that school let me with, corporal punishment... says it all) but it has also left me with the determination to know exactly what is going with my children when they go to school. My parents didn't have a clue what i was gong through, and i don't blame them, i never told them. History will not repeat itself. Thank you for a great article!
SaraBrown55846 SaraBrown55846 5 years
Im currently going through this with my 3rd grade son. At the beginning of the year he was a fairly newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic and had just started an insulin pump so he was experiencing a lot of ups and downs with his sugar. His teacher complained about being aggravated by him to theclinic aide and i tried to rectify the issue. Ever since then he is constantly singled out by her for any trouble in the classroom. He gets in trouble for talking at lunch and talking in the bathroom and falling down at recess. He has been in trouble almost every day which is not normal. His first 3 years of school he maybe got in trouble 5 times. I contacted his 2nd grade teacher ehom id grown close to and she gave me some really great ideas!
RebeccaLucas RebeccaLucas 5 years
I have had a few problems with my child ay school. He can be naughty and i am not denying that. The problem is when he is picked out for doing wrong even of he has done nothing or if other kids are involved and their behaviour is ignored. I have have spoken to the teacher and been dismissed myself by her. Going to the head is ok but at my sons school the head seems to condone bullying and will gladly pick on both parents and children. I think sometimes the only option is to move to another school. You will soon find out for yourself then whether the problem was with the school or the child.
DianePierce DianePierce 5 years
This brings up bad memories. I was bullied by a teacher in fourth grade. This teacher would enjoy humiliating me by setting up practical jokes between her and other students and teachers. This teacher would also give my work credit to another student (the one she chose to be her pet student and could do no wrong) and then give me a failing for "not turning in my work". If it was a group project she would give me directions for the project that weren't true (though give every one else the right directions) and then tell everyone look how stupid I was that I couldn't follow directions right. My mother had many of the other students mothers tell her about the bullying but nothing was ever done. I think my incredible shyness and anxiety stems from the year of hell I had with this person.
CaliHarryRoberts CaliHarryRoberts 5 years
My son now 14 had the worst 2nd grade teacher & I think his lack of trust for teachers now has been brought on by this teacher. Then we had tons of meetings. But she had the other staff on her side. & was too late in the year to transfer classes. Only thing I could do was put a stop to my younger 2 from being put in her class. Very sad the bad influence a teacher can have on a child.
TeraMoore42970 TeraMoore42970 5 years
My daughters choir teacher kept pulling up my daughters shirt-actually putting part of her hand in her shirt-my daughter has all A's and a B but her choir grade has dropped to a low C.. My daughter's body has matured fast and the more she mature's physically the more this teacher harasses her. She says her shirts are inappropriate cause they bend over in class. I do not remember bending over being part of choir, we were walwys told to stnad or sit straight up..
AmyButler65860 AmyButler65860 5 years
I had this situation this year. I had the behavior confirmed by a number of children in the class. I talked to the teacher, and she apologized to my child, but not in front of the class where she had humiliated her. The behavior repeated even after the discussion, so I met with the principal and had her moved to another class. This teacher decided she had ADHD and needed drugged. This was her first year in the school after moving in August. She had no issues at her preious school. I am now homeschooling, and will be at least until we move again as I do not trust this school.
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