If your child complains they are being bullied by an adult within the school community, in particular a teacher it's worth considering what might be behind it.
Respectful classroom relationships are usually modelled by teachers, who set the tone for the behaviours within their classrooms. However, if your child is concerned that they may be the subject of bullying behaviours from their teacher, you should always pursue this further as you would with any concern about bullying.
Having an open conversation with your child is a great first step. Ask your child to describe the bullying behaviours and see if they can identify any factors that may have contributed to these circumstances.
Given that relationships between teachers and students are unique, you may like to consider the range of possible alternative reasons for conflict other than bullying.
Some key questions that you might like to consider include:
- Is the 'bullying behaviour' misinterpreted disciplinary action (the teacher is responding to your child misbehaving in class in order to maintain a safe and supportive classroom)?
- Is your child struggling with their school work and are inquiries into their progress making them distressed?
- Does your child have these same concerns about other teachers and if so could this pattern be a result of broader circumstances?
- Is the teacher unaware of personal circumstances in your family, or sensitivities that might mean that jokes or comments which might be inoffensive to most people upset your child?
How to resolve the problem
Regardless of if you think bullying behaviours are occurring, if there appears to be an issue with how your child and their teacher are relating an informal approach to the assistant principal, year level co-coordinator or student wellbeing coordinator is a good start. Where appropriate, you may first like to discuss your concern with the teacher.
Your school should be open to working with you to ensure that the relationships between teachers and students are positive and that any issues of bullying are addressed immediately.
If you feel you have a genuine concern and the assistant principal, year level coordinator or student wellbeing coordinator hasn't been able to resolve it then raise this issue with the principal and if that isn't successful you can make a complaint to the Department.
It is the Department’s role to ensure that, wherever possible, concerns are resolved at the school level. Information on how schools and the Department manage your concern or complaint can be found at Make a complaint or raise a concern about your school.