I left a comment on a blog back in April about what I would want to tell the teachers of tomorrow. This is what I said:
“Please remind them that they have a responsibility to help our children and judging them does not help anyone. Remind them that they have a choice to be an inspiration or a detriment to our most vulnerable children. Advise them that even when children on the autism spectrum are teenagers they are not typical teenagers and asking them to write from a typical teenager’s perspective is ludicrous especially if a simple change in the assignment can avoid problems. Please beg them to assume the best rather than the worse about our children and to be aware that other things besides the class itself may affect our child’s ability to complete an assignment. Wrong assumptions can and do harm our children.”
Good teachers are the ones who are supportive of those who struggle either academically or socially without calling attention to the child. They promote kindness and tolerance and they avoid making assumptions. They realize each child is unique and they do not assume they know everything about a child on the autism spectrum or with any other diagnosis just because they have known other children with the same diagnosis. They realize past bullying can take years to overcome. My daughter was fortunate to have a few of these teachers.
Then we have teachers that bully our children as indicated in Teachers Bullying Your Child? Dealing With Teacher Problems. Now, I cannot fathom a teacher intentionally harming a child, but I know many hurt my child whether they knowingly did so or not. I believe they actually contributed to the bullying even if they did not knowingly bully her. This has to stop!
One more thing that needs to stop is teachers who fail to recognize how long the effects of bullying last. The teacher who ultimately caused my daughter to leave her school told me she did not see how bullying that happened over four years prior could still be affecting my daughter. I have said it before and I am still saying it, the bullying caused more problems than Asperger’s traits and sensory sensitivity combined for my child. My daughter’s school let us down by their lack of understanding. Teachers, counselors, and school administration all need to read this, New Study Shows Long-Term Effects of Bullying Tied to Empathy « Bullying Stories and this, Long term effects of Bullying in girls and boys – Child Psychology and Parenting Blog: Child-Psych.org.
P.S. I have offered my services for free to my daughter’s former school, yet so far they have not accepted this offer. Maybe they think I have an agenda other than helping them, I do not know. I keep hearing stories about the same counselor making the same mistakes over and over again along with more bullying stories. I have to wonder why they are unwilling to accept help.
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How can you not know that bully–a traumatic event or, as is more likely, a long series of traumatic events–would require significant amounts of time to recover from? I don’t intend to be mean, but it’s that obvious? Shouldn’t it be?
Add to that what bullying is: yes, it’s traumatic, and yes, as such it can cause post-traumatic stress; but it also creates emotional stress and internal conflicts of another sort, mainly that which should be safe (school, peer interactions, teacher interactions) have become in some instances intentionally damaging. So, not only do you have to deal with the post-traumatic stress (whether it reaches “disorder” proportions or not), you also have to deal with a fundamental break-down in trust.
Either one, the trauma stress or the damaged trust, are issues that can last a lifetime, especially in situations and locations that trigger the memories of those experiences.
Can that really be so difficult to understand?
I agree! Thank you! I still need to respond to your Facebook message too. I am so far behind on so many things right now. Hopefully I will have more time next week to work on responding to e-mails and Facebook messages.
I understand. There’s always more to do than there is time to do it.
“Good teachers are the ones who are supportive of those who struggle either academically or socially without calling attention to the child.”
Indeed, this is important that teachers do not flash a spotlight on kids who struggle, as this makes puts the poor kids into embarrassing situation, and sometimes puts them as targets to bullies. Instead, teachers must help them in a discreet manner.
Exactly! Thank you!
Sue, you are right on target about the crucially important role that educators play in stopping bullying in the schools. Equally important is the training and support that staff need from administrators. Staff need to know about the effects of bullying, how to recognize it and the necessity of immediate intervention. Staff also need to know that the school administration will support their efforts in every case and consider the matter as serious as any other major offense. Students also need hands on workshops in a preventative manner. It is an issue for the entire school community which also must extend to parents.
Rightly so is your observation that many downplay the long term effects of bullying on a child. Too many believe that bullying is an age old part of culture which “simply is” and people should get over it. It’s not unlike the “boys will be boys” rationalization. The reality is that some wounds never heal and that some scars are never eradicated. Marginalization, depression, dropping out and ultimately suicide are effects of these deep wounds. Combined with a disability, the most vulnerable are easy prey for bullies…even greater consequences occur.
I am so happy that you keep our attention on this serious issue.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply! I agree that training and support are needed in our schools too. I keep hearing there is no funding for this, but I wonder how many bullying organizations and/or parents of victims who have educated themselves would be willing to offer assistance with this. I hope this becomes a priority at our schools since it also impacts academic success.