The increase in parent-led bullying and in some cases, violence against Australian teachers is alarming. According to one public school teacher, this bad behaviour not only impacts teachers negatively, but the kids in their care.
Karen Edwards* is a mum-of-two and special education high school teacher from regional NSW. While she loves her job and adores the children she works with, Karen feels that parents’ interference with her work and disregard for her expertise is detrimental to the students.
“Raising children with disabilities can be very challenging and most parents are keen to collaborate with teachers and schools to ensure they get the best educational outcome,” Karen tells Mamamia.
“It is surprising however how many parents consistently interfere and cause problems.”
LISTEN: The case of parent teacher bullying that has ripped apart a school.
One emotional and angry father sent Karen so many text messages about his child, that it led to him being issued with a Lands Protection Act notice to ban him from school grounds.
“I understand how stressed parents get, but this dad would regularly and aggressively message me during school hours about his son. I tried not to take it personally but it was upsetting and disruptive.”
A mum to a boy with autism in Year 7 became so difficult in her dealings with Karen, that the school decided to cease all contact with her and only liaise with the child’s father.
“She would ring me multiple times during the day to check on her son and make all kinds of requests. Occasionally she would just turn up in the classroom to talk to me without the school’s permission.
“She was highly critical of our methods and would pack activities and crafts in his backpack that she wanted him to do instead of what we had planned which caused her son anxiety.
“He had no boundaries at home and I could see there was very little real support from either parent. They would bribe him each week with hugely expensive and inappropriate gifts for completing minor tasks at school and I could see that their behaviour was not helping his.”
While Karen was upset and frustrated by the mother’s behaviour, she always felt well supported by the school.