Everyone is super concerned with bullies in school. The definition of a bully has widened to include any level of meanness and discomfort. The platform is vast, the internet carries hatred quite literally from sea to shining sea. But I’m coming to the conclusion that the real bullies we should be concerned about in our schools are not our children’s classmates, but the very adults we entrust our children to every single day.
Over the years working with teenagers, I hear story after story of teachers abusing their power, belittling and bullying kids at every opportunity. From Florida to Texas there is no exception. Teachers are out of control, and quite frankly, it’s pissing me off.
Now I know that teenagers, specifically, can be rude, and obstinate. I have four of them, so I rightfully am a self-proclaimed expert. I understand the difficulty of their inability to fully grasp the adult-perspective, while still fighting for their childhood, yet pushing through to maturity. It’s a tough world they live in filled with stresses and pressures I know I could not have handled when I was the mess I was at their age. No matter how we spin it or define it, teenagers are still kids and need to be trained and taught. So when I hear of the stories of teachers flippin’ out without any self-control, quite frankly, it pisses me off.
I heard claims in Florida of administrators and campus police targeting kids, doing whatever possible to push kids to their capacity to get them expelled. Officers following chosen students around, waiting in the shadows so they can pounce. Grudges held by teachers, waiting on their opportunity to payback students for embarrassment in class or laziness or sleeping during a lecture or being a teenager.
My own child, at eight, was a victim of teacher bullying. He was labeled as inept, and mean. Ya, I know! My sweet little Zac. He had trouble reading, and felt threatened by the entire process. His anger and shame was turned into, “Your child is very intimidating. Even the other teachers agree with me.” After meetings with the school psychologist and several administrators, even changing his teacher–who had already preconceived ideas of how ‘horrible’ my child was, we yanked him from public school on a prayer and an empty bank account and enrolled him in private school. Now we know he has a reading disorder. Now he has a teacher who is patient and understanding that he has hearing loss in one of his ears. But before, before he was just bullied.
This morning on the way to taking my 16 year old to school she tells me this story:
Mom, on Friday there was a kid sitting in the hallway, listening to music and working on his homework. He was minding his own business. Not bothering anyone. This teacher comes up and tells him, “get your stuff and move. You can’t be here.” So the kids asks, “Did I do something wrong?” The teacher starts yelling at him, things like “don’t disrespect me! Get up now! Do what I say! If you don’t I’m getting the principal.”
So of course the kid doesn’t get up, because he wasn’t doing anything wrong. And before you know it, here comes the teacher and the principal. The principal starts yelling at this kid, seriously, at the top of his lungs. Threatening him. Telling this kid, who was doing nothing, that he’s going to get the kid arrested. Then he accuses the kid of not even going to the school. Because every teenager just hangs out at random schools and does their homework in the hallways. Mom, it was ridiculous. The kid just sat there and took it. And all I could think is, those teachers better be glad they aren’t yelling at me, because then they’d have to deal with you.”
Amen, Sisters and Brothers. Amen. Because if you want to unleash the before-I-knew-Jesus-wrath-and-anger mess with my babies. I dare you. Everything in me wanted to take my daughter through the halls this morning and try to find this kid. So I could hug him, and tell him, I got your back. I will fight for you. So many times, I’ve wanted to stand up on the front lines for these kids, who most of the time need the most encouragement and support, to protect them from the very people who are suppose to protect them in the first place. I told her next time, video it so I can get them fired. I told her next time get the boys name and tell him, “I’ll call my mom for you. She’ll take care of this.”
This principal, this teacher, they have no clue what that kid went through that morning or the night before. But I can tell you that this kid handled the situation way more maturely than either of those so-called adults.
We live in a world where kids, and specifically teenagers, are rarely given the benefit of the doubt. More and more, kids in school are taken advantage of, and used as emotional punching bags by some teachers (not all, some.) who have their own I-was-rejected-in-high-school-so-now-you-are-going-to-pay-for-it issues. Grow up. You want kids to give you respect, then give them respect. You want teenagers to grow into adults that have a desire to contribute to society and positively affect the future of our country, then stop taking your crap out on them.
So here is my Public Service Announcement of the day: Douchebag teachers, cut it out, because you’re pissing me off.