Teachers intimidating children

"But more reflective teachers realized that bullying is a hazard of teaching." Robert Freeman, an elementary school principal in Fallon, Nev., agrees. When he came onboard, "Other teachers inundated me with complaints about her," he says.

"One year, I got 16 requests from parents asking me not to put their child in her class." Freeman investigated and found a cruel streak.

But teachers do bully for various reasons, experts tell Web MD. Or, in a surprising reversal of the "teacher's pet" syndrome, insecure teachers may bully bright students out of envy.

Other teachers suffer from personal problems -- job burnout, marital woes, or severe behavior problems with their own children -- and they take out their frustrations in class.

In an ideal world, there would be screening methods to weed out such "nightmare teachers," he says.

"We basically feel that sadistic teachers shouldn't be teachers." For the bully-victim teacher, there may be more hope, he says.

These bully-victim teachers are often absent from work, they fail to set limits, and they do a lot of referrals to the principal because they like other people to handle their problems." These teachers could benefit from training on effective classroom management, he says.In recent years, a slew of books have offered parents ample insight into the minds of young bullies.But what if it's the teacher who screams, threatens, or uses biting sarcasm to humiliate a child in front of the class?As Twemlow's study co-researcher, Peter Fonagy, Ph D, noted in a news release: "If your early experiences lead you to expect that people will not reason, but respond to force, then you are at risk of recreating this situation in your classroom." When abuse is physical, most parents don't hesitate to report the offending teacher, Freeman says.But many see emotional or verbal bullying as a gray area.

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In his anonymous survey of 116 teachers at seven elementary schools, more than 70% said they believed that bullying was isolated. "I was surprised at how many teachers were willing to be honest," Twemlow says.

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