Beyond Blunt Honesty

According to a Highlander survey, about 9% of students surveyed have felt bullied by a Seaholm teacher. Twenty eight percent of students surveyed believe that teacher to student bullying does exist at Seaholm. PHOTO / MADELINE TEW

By: Kathleen Davis, Kelsey McClear & Taylor Wyllie

Editor’s note: This is the second part in a two part series on bullying. 

“Teachers love to call students stupid if they answer a question wrong.  They also pick on students and will throw them out of a class if they try to defend themselves.”

 That was scrawled on the bottom of a Highlander survey, as an anonymous Seaholm student voices the concern of 28% of students’ surveyed who believe teachers at Seaholm bully students.

 Only 9% of students’ surveyed, though, have directly experienced a harsh comment, or embarrassing remark from a teacher that they have interpreted as bullying.

 The Highlander found at least four students who claim they were been bullied by Seaholm teachers. Each student declined comment, stating their incident is too specific to them and they’re afraid the teacher would find out and retaliate.

 Girls and Boys Club Founder Kimber Bishop-Yanke believes teacher to student bullying does exist, although there is a really fine line.

 “It seems like bullying happens everywhere, I don’t think there is any area of life that is protected for it [bullying],” Bishop-Yanke said.

 According to comments on the survey, students consider a variety of confrontations with teachers as bullying.

 “Some teachers call you out in front of the whole class and it can be embarrassing,” an anonymous student wrote on a survey.

 Another student believed that teachers assert their power when a student will go to them regarding their grade.

 According to Bishop-Yanke this is a subject that is usually taboo as teachers don’t like to discuss the issue. Additionally, she’s has never come across an adult who considers themselves an expert on teacher to student bullying.

 “I haven’t come across someone who really deal with this [type of bullying].” Bishop-Yanke said.

 However, Bishop-Yanke has ideas on how to handle the issue. It’s different than what was taught in early elementary school because standing up to teachers’ can be considered disrespectful. She urges students to contact an adult they trust and enlist their help.

 “It’s a different relationship,” Bishop-Yanke said. “A parent should be involved.”

 A graduated senior had an issue come up last year, when her basketball coach called her rude names and yelled at her during practices. Instantly, she got her parents involved.

 “Absolutely, it was bullying. But I didn’t want to go down that path,” her parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. “Teachers’ can’t talk to students that way.”

 President of the PTSA, Rosemary Ricelli Scheidt hasn’t seen any particular cases of teacher to student bullying, but she believes it’s there.

 “I’m not in the classroom so I’m not seeing that…” Ricelli Scheidt said. “I’m sure it happens. At this point, things like that wouldn’t surprise me.”

 Ricelli Scheidt said the PTSA wouldn’t be able to much in these types of situations, besides being there to support the student or their parents.

 “If I had a parent who came to me who thought their child was being bullied, getting involved in that wouldn’t really be in my realm,” Ricelli Scheidt said. “But facilitating them getting involved with one of the administrators or principals would be the best way for the [PTSA] to handle that.

 The Birmingham Public Schools policy strictly states that any form of bullying will not be tolerated.

 “Bullying or other aggressive behavior toward a student, whether by other students, staff, or third parties, within the school community, including Board members, parents, guests, contractors, vendors, and volunteers, is strictly prohibited.” Stated in policy number 5517.01.

 When situations do arise between a student and administrator, Bishop-Yanke wants all parties to keep in mind that there can be more going on than what meets the eye. According to Bishop-Yanke, there can be other things going on in either the student or teacher’s lives that can affect their reaction to the undesirable situation.

 “That child may have other things going on in their life that is making them respond to situation.” Bishop-Yanke said.

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