[Wednesday is usually Almost Wordless Wednesday here. It will be again next week. Almost Wordless Wednesday has been interrupted for this special post on an issue that is part of what I, personally want to kill, disintegrate, and annihilate with awareness - Bullying.]
Naive? Yes, thank you, perhaps I am. And if you want to stay that way – do not read this post. The incident I am about to describe to you is not the only one, as you will see below.
This father, Stuart Chaifetz, taped his 10 year old autistic son’s classroom to find out what would trigger his non-violent son to hit his teachers at school. The boy had never done it before. A behaviorist was called in to set up a situation that might provoke him to lash out but he did not. The child was simply not violent. After six months, the dad took it into his own hands, wired his partially non-verbal son, and got answers. Disturbing answers.
Turns out, his child’s female teacher and her aide were verbally abusing his 10 year old boy with insults, calling him a bastard, telling him he would not be able to see his dad after visitation with his mom (a lie and a source of high anxiety for the child – known to the teachers). All in all, intentionally hurting and emotionally abusing a child who could not tell on them – a 10 year old boy trusted to their care.
Stuart Chaifetz, posted a video about it on YouTube. Here it is:
If you do not have time or cannot watch for emotional reasons, he called for a public apology and resignation of the teacher (who was merely transferred to another school) and the aide (who was actually fired, having admitted on the tape to showing up to work drunk after a night of drinking wine).
You can help Stuart by signing the petition to terminate the employment of any teacher who bullies children, here.
So what, you ask? All kids get bullied at some point? It happens to everyone? They’re just kids? He’ll get over it? I pity those who chose to minimize this. If a teacher is willing to verbally abuse the students, what is to stop them from escalating the abuse to culminate in a student’s death, like that of Aaron Hatcher. Bullying is abusive, whether it is physical or verbal. It has serious and long term effects.
This information is from this bullying statistics website.
“…Verbal bullying can be just as harmful - in different ways - as physical bullying. With verbal bullying, the goal is still to degrade and demean the victim, while making the aggressor look dominant and powerful. All bullying focuses on creating a situation in which the victim is dominated by the aggressor. And this can happen verbally as well as physically.”
“Verbal bullying can affect self image, and affect someone in emotional and psychological ways. This type of bullying can lead to low self-esteem, as well as depression and other problems. It can aggravate problems that a victim may already be experiencing at home or in other places. In some cases, verbal bullying can reach a point where the victim is so depressed, and wants to escape so badly, that he or she may turn to substance abuse or - in some extreme cases - suicide. In the end, words have a power all their own, and the realities of verbal bullying can have very physical consequences, even if the aggressor never lays a finger on the victim.”
This long-term horror story for this child is over but it took the dad extreme measure to get to the bottom of it. How many of us would even know how to wire our child? How many of our kids would not pull the wire off due to sensory needs?
It’s about more than bullying – it’s about a lot of other things including abuse of power and trust. Parents have no choice but to trust the teachers to whom they hand over the care of what is most precious to them – their children. In the case of a special needs, non-verbal child, it is vitally important that a parent be able to trust the teacher because there is often no way for the parent assure the safety of the child because we are not there.
Because our children cannot tell us.
They often cannot comprehend, associate or verbalize why they are upset, scared, depressed, or sad after a teacher verbally abuses them. Someone they are supposed to look up to, to lean on, to learn from, to care for.
Is this just an odd, isolated incident? Yes, probably – but not the only one. Why didn’t the school district fire the teacher? Because they feared the teacher’s union? Because they were more afraid of a lawsuit by the teacher than the student’s parent(s)? Because they figured there would just be two lawsuits instead of one? It has to be about money because it’s always about money.
This incident was not an issue of the child’s word against that of the teacher – this parent had taped the conversation.
Do these teachers think they have an expectation of privacy when they are alone with our children entrusted to their care that would allow them not to be taped without their consent? Who cares? Should they have such a right? Not if you ask me. Or should we be able turn our televisions on and see our children in class at any time during the day with live, streaming video when they are teaching special needs children to see what’s happening in class?
Please do not think these two idiots that Stuart caught, masquerading as teachers, are the only ones.
Look here for the story of the 14 year old female special needs student abused by her teachers, caught on tape:
and here for the choking of a special needs (cerebral palsy) student who uses a walker:
and of course, look to the death of Aaron Hatcher here.
What is happening? Lazy administrators? Poor hiring decisions? Lack of pay? Lack of oversight? What kinds of changes in the law do we need to safeguard our children better than it’s done now?
I think that television monitoring system is an exquisite idea. Send a tape home for the entirety of the school day- every day. Everywhere the child is so should a camera be. Always watching, always assuring appropriate behavior by those entrusted with this type of care.
I also advocate periodic psychological testing of those who teach special needs children to assess any changes in stress, anger, behavior, and training and retraining that is meaningful and specific with removal of any teacher whose psychological evaluation even slightly indicates a problem.
It is inexcusable that parents and students end up wiring or surreptitiously taping teachers to prove allegations of abuse.
Luckily, I have not been exposed to what is shown here on a personal level of any kind. My son has amazing, loving caring teachers. I know the vast majority of educators are good, caring people with the right intentions. This post is not about them. This post is about the rotten apples. How do they get there? How do we prevent it? What can we change? If we sweep it under the rug, how will it get fixed?
Dialogue is where it starts. Don’t let this one be solo.