Abuse in the public school system (part one)

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Finally, it has come to national attention that many of our hardworking and dedicated educators are being verbally and physically accosted by out of control students. This is far from being some new occurrence and for the most part, is overlooked and trivialized by school boards and administrations. It is especially more prevalent in urban schools serving disadvantaged students.

‘Help’ has been the cry for many teachers for years in primarily urban public schools with a large population of students from disadvantaged areas. All too often, the dots making a connection are ignored, not attributing poor student proficiency to time spent with trying to deal with chronically problematic students in the classroom who manifest physical and verbal abuse toward other students and teachers. Often you are met with frustrated teachers who feel abandoned by the principal or an administration supposedly supporting them. The teachers repeatedly send disruptive students to the office only to have these students returned to the classroom with no noticeable change.

In fact, you find some principals or administrators accusing the teachers with initiating the problems contributing to disruptive behaviors by having poor classroom management skills. The pressure of school boards and the public for a school’s state and national test scores to be acceptable usually leaves everyone in many schools pointing fingers.

While you may find a handful of incompetent, ineffective, or uncaring teachers, one could argue that the majority of teachers are committed, dedicated, and are truly working to promote and facilitate the skills necessary to aid students into becoming successful and productive individuals. Unfortunately, in too many cases, attempts to correct abusive behaviors using a standardized procedure may not be effective—apparently, one size doesn’t fit all. This may account for why you have some teachers who are confronted with reoccurring incidents of defiant and disrespectful behavior, regardless of their attempts to eradicate that behavior.

There is a big difference between offering advice and trying to realisticaly bring about a positive outcome or solution. There have been many times when principals or administrators have advised teachers how to professionally handle disciplinary behaviors involving verbal and physical abusive students only to revert to the level of the student when they are personally assaulted

The public, for the most part, has no idea of the verbal and physical abuse occurring in some of our classrooms. In fact, there are administrators who have told teachers in urban, disadvantaged areas that being verbally and physically assaulted is part of being a teacher at that school. But no human being should be subjected to the level of dehumanization that some teachers have been subjected to by some students and even by some administrative heads.

Normally, our media only concentrates on the abuse that may come about when an adult teacher battles a belligerent, problematic student. They don’t cover all the details that bring this disturbance about. While some say there is no excuse or exception for a teacher to hit a child, teachers are merely human and have a breaking point as well as a right to defend themselves when they feel their lives are threatened. Only by placing cameras in the classroom would the public have a realistic view of the unacceptable chaos that is occurring in too many classrooms.

By no means should one support violence, but there are too many former teachers as well as active teachers who feel they have no venue to hear their concerns of abuse by students. Let’s stop playing favorites by only advocating for the student and crying foul play when a teacher is involved in a verbal or physical altercation with the student. Let’s put forth an effort to unravel the whole picture and to see what was done to bring about an abusive physical altercation. If the truth is told, you would find too many administrations at fault, falling short of not doing everything possible to train, educated and aid teachers begging for help in dealing with behavioral problems in the classroom.

High attrition and school turnover, especially by young teachers, can be attributed to teachers refusing to take the physical and verbal abuse of students not effectively being dealt with by the school administration.

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