In light of the terrible story involving a Japanese child who committed suicide due to being victim of systematic bullying, I think it is worth focusing on the role of teacher in a bullying situation.
There were reports in that story that the teachers laughed as bullies tried to choke the victim. That reaction is certainly not an accurate reflection of how most teachers would react in a similar circumstance. But it does hone in on an underrated skill – the role of teacher as supervisor.
I have argued before that teachers have got to improve their supervision skills. At recess and in the classroom, they must be alert to any bullying that may exist. There have been too many incidents of bullying that have occurred in the playground at a time when teachers should have been supervising.
Readers have defended these teachers by claiming that they are so overburdened with responsibilities that one can not expect teachers to be as alert as if they were given a lighter workload.
It may be true that teachers are overworked – but this responsibility is crucial.
When my child goes to school I entrust her teachers with something I have no control over. Sure I want them to teach her well, but if they failed to do so I could always address the shortfall myself. The one thing I have no control over is her health and safety during the day (both physical and emotional).
Teachers must improve their alertness during recess supervision. They must be aware of the social dynamics of their students and any problems that may exist. I would much rather my daughter’s teacher be a brilliant supervisor than a brilliant planner or classroom decorator.
Click on the link to read my post, “Child Commits Suicide Due to Alleged Systematic Bullying and Inept Teachers.”