The Texas Education Agency has been swamped with 156 allegations concerning sexual teacher-student violations in 2011-12. Compared to 2007-08, the complaints have increased by approximately 70!
We look up to our teachers as knowledgeable and gracious, because we associate ourselves with them at such a young age. They influence a sizable portion of our lives, molding us in ways that are usually done unknowingly. After our parents, it is a teacher who slips into their shoes and takes over.
But what happens when a teacher takes undue advantage of a student? How do those who are too young or emotionally brittle, handle the lewd advances, barrage of constant criticism, or deliberate lack of attention in the classroom? Let's delve into the situations that most students are subjected to, and how to handle them without causing irreparable damage to your child.
Tips on How to Handle an Abusive Teacher
Last year, two teachers were caught red-handed in a school district in Alabama, for verbally abusing 10-year-old Jose Salinas―a young boy with cerebral palsy. His mother was quick to act when she attached a hidden tape recorder to her son's wheelchair, after a student mentioned how mean certain teachers were toward him. The tape recording revealed a startling amount of evidence of horrid remarks made by two teachers―Drew Faircloth and Alicia Brown. The sad part is, the teachers were sent away on paid leave (twice) by the school's administration, with no news whether they'll be ultimately fired. This is just one such story of a challenged student being victimized by vicious teachers.
How does one fail to exude compassion and understanding towards a child that suffers from a disorder? It just goes to show how disturbed the world is when it comes to showing basic human sentiments, like love and tenderness. Because of such emotionally and mentally dystopic teachers, verbal abuse cannot be ignored for what is―a cruel, unjust form of injury.
What to do: If your child comes crying home almost every day, fraught with misery and feelings of anxiety about returning to class, don't dismiss it as childish or take it lightly. Act on it by first speaking to your child about the extent of his claim, before you take action.
This is probably the worst kind of abuse, where young children fall prey to the sexual motives of a teacher. There are a gamut of angles that one can consider when it comes to sexual abuse, like, did the student encourage the teacher? Did they pass an inappropriate comment that may have possibly indicated that they expected more than just classroom attention? It may sound horrendous to even think of a young child behaving suggestively, but then again, we live in an age where 8-year-olds have Facebook accounts.
Don't rule out the possibility of such a situation especially if you notice telltale signs like―unexplained bruises or scratches, blue-black marks, not comfortable with being touched affectionately, sobbing behind closed doors, hurriedly going to his room after class, and other just-as-disturbing behavior. Kids are supposed to be ebullient and happy, not sullen and distant when they were once so full of life. Sexual abuse is a fragile matter, where approaching a child indelicately can prove to be disastrous.
What to do: Parents of children who've been sexually abused, usually spot odd marks on their bodies where one would normally be clothed. If you see scratch marks on their back, thighs, or any other inappropriate area, ask them openly about it and gauge from their reaction about how they got it. If they look fearful, avoid eye contact, irascibly respond, or hesitate, consider notifying the authorities.
The repercussions of physical harm done to a child can only be understood by those who've borne the brunt of it. We can sit and analyze the facts all day, but nothing comes close to the actuality of what a child was forced to experience. Like sexual abuse, there can be revealing assault markings that the child can bear, that aren't necessarily visible. This is nothing short of a felonious act, where children can be marred to a point of hysteria, if not emotionally/mentally capable of tackling the situation.
An incident of physical assault was reported by the Examiner, where a Science teacher was caught on tape for kicking and beating up 13-year-old Isaiah Reagins. And get this, he was attacked after she caught him teasing another student. The hard-to-digest part of this story is not the assault itself, but the teachers and adults who impassively stood by and watched.
What to do: Like Jose Salina's mother, you can use a recording device attached to your child's school bag, in the hope of snagging the sexual offender. Once you have evidentiary support, do not waste a moment's notice. For more help, you can contact The Global Missing Children's Network. While they largely deal with missing-children cases, they can be of immense help in matters related to physical exploitation.
There are teachers that feed on the embarrassment of students to sustain their perverse inclinations. Students―especially young children―find it hard to dismiss such incidents that put them in a vulnerable position. This is not an acceptable form of discipline, where teachers do not hesitate to manipulate students by using their position of power. Parents have to pay close attention to their children, especially when a severe shift in behavior is witnessed. The implications that come to light, can only be noticed if parents are attentive to their children.
What to do: Young kids who've been put through traumatic incidents of being publicly humiliated, have always showcased fear and melancholy about returning to class the following day. If your child seems upset, withdrawn, and uninterested in eating on several occasions, you'll need to confront him about it.
Unfair Test Scores
I have a friend whose Science teacher would intentionally grade her paper incorrectly, often giving her a lower score than she actually deserved. She had no reason to do this, of course. It was swiftly taken care of when her mother (being a tutor) looked the paper over, discovering that the teacher was in fact, at fault. After a heated face-to-face confrontation, the problem was resolved and she quit victimizing my friend.
While teachers are supposed to look out for their students, others deliberately make them look bad by giving them an F grade, or a score they don't deserve in the least. What propels them to act so unfairly is unclear. Sometimes, kids will do things unintentionally that push a teacher's buttons, but that doesn't give them the right to take it out on a child's grades.
What to do: If your child is certain that his grades have been marked incorrectly, they can approach the teacher to take another look at it. But if they're turned away with no logical reason, whether it's homework, a project submission, or a test, have someone else look it over. Chances are, the child hasn't done justice to the submitted work and needs help. But if discrepancies are repeatedly noticed in varying forms of your child's work, approach the principal or confront the teacher yourself.
Isolation from Others
There are teachers who isolate a child from other students; excluding them from activities, group projects, and even from others in class. While it may seem okay to do this once in a while if a child's behavior is out of line, doing it out of sheer pleasure is a different ballgame altogether. A child is likely to develop an inferiority complex as he advances adolescence, turning into a loner or an antisocial individual.
What to do: The best way to know how a child does in class, is to ask his friends. They usually know what happens in the classroom, and are the best people to seek inside information from. If taken for granted, children can suffer from perdurable effects of not just being isolated, but of not being able to be themselves in public, do well in school, or interact comfortably with those around them.
Racism is an indelible societal issue that is still very much in existence today. Whether subtle or direct, racism is something that is unfortunately rampant in certain schools. Offensive terms that qualify as racist, are spat at students who are not at fault for being who they are. A general acceptance for all ethnicities is absent, where teachers will deny the fact that they are full-fledged racists. Even a common misconception that a teacher has about a certain race, cannot be used against a student who is too young to understand the gravity of the sardonic remark.
What to do: Kids who are old enough to understand about racism will have no qualms in voicing their troubles; others might find it hard to come forward if emotionally/mentally stricken. The only way to know for sure what's wrong, is to either speak casually to other students or place a recording device on your child's school bag.
One of the many fears that a parent has, is to acquire knowledge about their son/daughter dating a teacher. While rumors can be ostensible, they may have a smidge of truth to them if heard from more than two or three sources. By sources, I don't mean meddlesome parents, but staff members of the school or concerned friends that may care enough to come forward. Some students don't realize how wrong it is to have a relationship with their teacher, since they lack the perspicacity of seeing it as unhealthy and wrong.
The problem with most schools is that they hire teachers that are far too young―like Pat Sikes (currently a professor at the University of Sheffield), who met her future husband at the ripe age of 14; he was just a 22-year-old teacher. Here's another troubling tale: Helen Goddard―a private school music teacher―was jailed back in 2009 for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl; proving same-sex advances are just as problematic. Underage sex performed by teachers is a common occurrence in schools, and a scary revelation for parents. While a number of students aren't perturbed whilst the relationship flourishes, other children who aren't capable of defending themselves are prone to develop intimacy and trust issues.
What to do: If your child is underage, there is cause for panic, but don't make them feel worse by outrightly questioning them. While it is aberrant to continue a student-teacher relationship, others who are totally fine about such a thing, will throw a tantrum, or worse, threaten to leave home. Sit down with your child and explain how wrong it is to continue, and how if the authorities found out they'd both be in big trouble. For teachers who indulge in underage sex, confronting the school board is crucial since he may be messing around with more than one student.
It is important to seek help immediately when suspected abuse is confirmed as true. Many kids will not have it in them to stand up to an adult, where it is crucial to step in and take charge. Pay attention to your child and investigate odd behavior, especially when noticed by others. I know what it's like to be a victim of extreme verbal abuse as a student, but not all of us can handle it and still manage to escape emotionally/mentally unscathed.