Bullying is a hot topic. Children are bullied for being smart, gay, liking different music, having different clothes, speaking with an accent, and not being able to hit a ball over the fence, to name but a few. Basically, there is no limit to the topics that draw the ire of playground bullies and schoolyard mob mentality well beyond the realm of good-natured ribbing. It’s awful and we, the collective we of parents, kids, and assorted hangers-on, are making every attempt to address it.
However, what happens when the bullying is not from other students, but rather the very people that are charged with the protection of our children? This is exactly what happened to a little boy, a child with special needs, in New Jersey, and his dad, obviously, is outraged. Rightfully so. (See his video at the bottom of this post.)
Stuart Chaifetz, the little boy’s father, in an act of desperation, sent his son to school with a digital recording device hidden in his pocket in hopes of getting to the root of his autistic son’s reported problems in class. What Chaifetz heard on the audio recording was, frankly, disgusting.
Chaifetz took the recording, which had his son’s teacher and classroom aides engaging in very inappropriate behavior, much of it at the expense of, and directed at, the students — to the point of tears, and presented it to school officials. One aide was fired, and the other staff members were moved to other classrooms, with school officials citing the non-firing as “a personnel matter.”
Again, Chaifetz is outraged. Again, rightfully so.
The minute bullying behavoir stops being a matter of kid on kid playground hierarchy and growing pain cruelness, not to justify such things, and includes adults berating children and mocking them openly, it becomes an issue that crosses “personnel matters” as Mr. Chaifetz was told, and becomes a call to action for common sense, decency, and possibly, legal consequences.
As a father, a non-violent man with a quick temper and an unrelenting need to protect my children, it would take every ounce of restraint that I could raise, not to mention that of any adult in the immediate vicinity, to keep me from storming into the classroom and fighting fire with fire. I can make people cry, too.
Luckily for those involved, Mr. Chaifetz is taking a much higher road, and he discussed it with Babble writer Joslyn Gray at Strollerderby. The article contains links for more information and how the rest of us can add our voices to those leading the discussion. It’s worth the read.
In the meantime, here is Mr. Chaifetz’s viral YouTube video, Teacher/Bully: How My Son Was Humiliated and Tormented by his Teacher and Aide:
What would you do in this situation?
Whit Honea worked for years as an Instructional Aide in Support/Special Eduction classrooms. These days he can be found writing about whatever he feels like at his personal site Honea Express (Honea sounds like pony) and DadCentric. If you’re really bored you can follow him on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
Also from Whit: