Students Harassing Teachers Commonplace in Schools

Friday July 13, 2012

By Sherri M. Gordon

There has been a lot of focus recently on Karen Klein, a bus monitor in an upstate New York school district, who was harassed and videotaped by students on the bus. Students poked her with a textbook, called her a barrage of obscenities and threatened to urinate on her front door.

There is no doubt that the bullying she sustained outraged people across the country. So when a campaign to send her on a much-needed vacation was launched, it easily amassed more than $600,000.

But as shocking as this type of bullying appears, it sadly is not new. In fact, students have harassed teachers and administrators for years. When I was in high school, it always seemed to be the substitute teachers that were taunted.

Over the years though, bullying of teachers has become increasingly cruel and even dangerous because students have access to advanced technology. As a result, a new type of bullying has emerged known as cyberbaiting. And that's what Klein endured.

The students on the bus were bullying her and baiting her, all the while recording her response. Then, they posted the video online for the world to see. What they didn't anticipate was that the video would be used as evidence and they would be suspended from school for a year.

Everyone agrees that what happened to Klein was horrible, but few people realize that this is not an isolated incident. Students are harassing teachers, principals, lunchroom workers and janitors as well.

In fact, a school safety report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 5% of public schools reported students verbally abused teachers on a daily or weekly basis. Also, 8% of secondary school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student.

As a result, it's important for parents like you and me to sit down and talk with our kids about the damaging effects of all bullying, including cyberbullying and cyberbaiting. It's also important that we teach our kids digital etiquette.

For ideas on preventing and responding to cyberbaiting, check out my articles, What is Cyberbaiting and How to Prevent It and 10 Ways to Respond to Cyberbaiting.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto


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