Teachers From Around The World Share Tales Of Nightmare Parents

Teachers From Around The World Share Tales Of Nightmare Parents

Dealing with unruly kids is one thing. If they're bad, you can send them to time-out, or detention. But what do you do when you're faced with unruly parents? It's not like you can just tell them to stand in the corner.

These teachers and educators from all around the world recently went online to share their stories of dealing with nightmare parents. Sometimes the apples don't fall too far from the trees. Alas!

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30. He learned it at home

Elementary teacher here. We had a student who wouldn't stop stealing things out of other kids backpacks. We had caught him on camera and would call the parents and they would just say "no, that's his insert stolen item, we just bought it for him." Then, we get him on a positive behavior plan and create intentional lessons about empathy to others, setting goals to get what you want, the difference between wants/needs etc.

Eventually, he gets enough positive days in a row that he gets released from the behavior plan and receives a free bike as his incentive for good behavior (they were donated to the school by a local bike shop). The next day he tells me his uncle stole it and pawned it. He went right back to his old behaviors and it was heartbreaking.

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29. Who does that?!

High school teacher, and we have something called Soft Lockdowns (known as Shelter in Place by some schools) where doors are shut and locked but classes continue as normal. These are pretty common and can be used for anything from a medical emergency (want everyone out of the hallway if someone needs to be cared for, because high schoolers are nosy) to a fugitive running around the neighborhood.

We've been in many soft lockdowns because parents have come to the school ready to hunt down and beat the crap out of a teacher. They usually come in the front office (can't access the rest of the school without someone opening the secured door) screaming, cussing, threatening everyone in the area, you get the picture. Often, they're removed by security and given a criminal trespass citation.

We have a pretty high rate of fights and violence between students. When I see parents acting this way, it all make sense.

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28. Stay classy, mom

I used be an educational facilitator at a science centre. During the school year I would be the liaison for school trips, during the summer - I would run the summer camps.

Parents used to like to plunk their kids in science camp because it is educational. We had a pile of hands on programming. I have to say, it was pretty fun! Fun unless your kid aggressively hates science and you are forcing them to be there.

Enter Jason. Jason was a turd on day one. We welcome them to camp with by making liquid nitrogen ice cream. Jason didn't give a crap. He refused to eat "stupid nerd ice cream". Through the day his attitude got worse. He refused to participate, called the other kids "nerds" and "losers" he was an all around pain in the butt. At pick up, I pulled his mother aside and said, "I don't think Jason really wants to be here, we can arrange for a refund or see if we can transfer him to another program he will find more to his liking. "

His mother replied, "It's your job to make him want to be here, and clearly you suck at it."


Day two. Jason shows up with an even bigger chip on his shoulder. The day's activity was engineering! Fort building! Every kid loves a good fort. Except Jason.

Jason picked up one of the plastic tubes and cracked a kid across the back of the leg with it. As I run over to tend to his victim, Jason cracks me across the side of the head with the tube with all his might, breaking my glasses and giving me a decent bruise across the side of the face.

It takes two of us to disarm Jason and separate him from the group. We pull him into the admin office and call his parents to come now. He is no longer welcome.

His mother shows up a good 3 hours later, absolutely livid. Not about Jason's behavior. Not in the least. There was no apology or understanding. Instead as we ejected her son from camp, she turned to us as said, "I hope you all get cancer."


27. Harmless but absentminded

I had a student last year who was new to the school. Really nice, friendly, shy and hilariously absentminded. He would come to school at least 2 days a week with either his shirt on backwards, inside out or both.

So I wanted to talk to his parents about how his absentmindedness was affecting his learning. Mom shows up at 5. Dad shows up 1hr late. We have a good chat and they get up to go. As I'm walking them out I said I will show you the shortest way to the parking lot.

The dad replies with, "I didn't park in the parking lot." So I said, "You can go the same way to the street." He said, "I couldn't find the parking entrance so I just drove around and parked on the asphalt play area." Sure enough I walk by and his car is next to the play ground.

So it all came together after that.

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26. Bad is the best you can do

I had this student who was so down on himself. His intuition for math was great and he would understand everything in class but then there was no follow through. No effort on homework or anything. At parent teacher conferences he had almost failed my class but I let him do makeup work and he just barely made it.

I spoke to him in front of his father and I said, “I think he can do better than this.” The father looked at him and said, “I don’t think he can, I think this is your best.” I’m not supposed to contradict parents but I said, “I think he will prove you wrong.” I realized his father constantly craps on him so he has no motivation. Kid ended up getting expelled shortly after for something unrelated.

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25. A sports school is called a gym

I had an extremely self-absorbed and arrogant student. The only person in real life I've ever heard use the phrase "Do you know who I am?" Apparently he had won some local sports contest and he really wanted to impress this younger student. He harassed every girl in the school. The first conversation I had with his mother, she snivelled: "You do know this is a sports school, right? Not an 'academics' school." No wonder he's this way, lady.

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24. Focus on the positives

I had a student who was a low-level rebel. I taught an elective, but I'm sure he was put in my class because it seemed low effort at the time. He was sulky, had issues with authority, didn't turn in his homework, etc. I dealt with him the same way that I deal with all my kids, and we slowly started to develop some fragile rapport.

At parent/teacher conferences, his mom brought him along. He looked trapped and defensive, and she looked irritated. By that point in the year, he was passing my class, so I started off by reviewing his grades and the events that were coming up in my class. She interrupted me near the end to say, "Yeah, yeah, but what is his behavior in class like? How badly is he behaving for you?" Poor kid slides lower in his chair, and I can tell that his mom brought him along as an exercise in shaming her kid.

I didn't feel like playing that game, so I brightly laid out every possible positive interaction I had with him during the year -- the conversations he had with me about career aspirations, the times he showed up on time to class, whatever I could throw at her. She left still looking irritated, but her kid left looking a little better. Sure, there were things I wished he would improve on, but that's a conversation for me and him to work out, not something to pile on in an evening of lectures from other teachers.

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23. "He's the star!"

I’ve met a lot of parents of great kids and it totally makes sense that their kid is great because they’re super nice and polite and normal. But I know people are here for the horror stories.

I taught kindergarten for the first part of my career. My last year in K I had a girl who was possibly the brattiest child I ever met. She had no qualms telling me ‘no’ when I’d ask her to do something totally reasonable, was mean and nasty to the other kids. Just a total nightmare.

At Meet the Teacher night, she came with her mom (despite me asking parents to leave their children at home unless absolutely necessary) and was totally disruptive and noisy and mom said nothing. Mom stuck around to ask me a question at the end and her daughter was covering her mouth as she was trying to speak. The mother just eventually gave up trying to ask me anything. I was so shocked I didn’t even know what to do.

A kid I had the year before was another hot mess. I had a really small class that year (which never happens in an urban public school) and it was so great for their social development. Except this kid. He didn’t want to learn his classmates’ names and didn’t want to play with them. Fair enough. But he would also interrupt them when it was their turn to talk because he wanted it to be his turn. Everything had to be about him or he’d throw a fit. He did no work and was well behind all of the other kids.

I met with the parents about his progress and they just laughed and shrugged. “That’s just his personality- he’s the star!” They also didn’t make him do any of the extra work I sent him to help him catch up because ‘he didn’t feel like it.’ I was so happy to watch him walk out of my door on the last day of school.

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22. Rewarding bad behavior

There's a boy in my class who hits children and laughs about it, most often with small disturbing smile as the other kid freaks out. We've told his parent repeatedly, and she stands there with her arms crossed looking at us like we should go die. Then she smiles at her son and asks in an overly cheerful voice if he wants to get ice cream/go to the movies/ play mini golf, essentially rewarding him for this behavior. It's so freaking infuriating. But it makes sense, because it's right there.

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21. Competitiveness gets handed down

I worked as a teaching assistant at a school last year.

One 8 year old kid was incredibly competitive and would threaten other students who were in 2nd or 3rd place in competitions to stay in their place so that he could win something and he would become incredibly red faced and stressed.

He would literally threaten his peers. He even threatened to kill other students over a competition of who could make this little robot move within taped lines on the floor.

He would become completely irrational during competitions -- it was crazy.

Then his parents came in for school Sports Day and had a FULL meltdown when they didn’t win the jokey parent race we do at the end of the day. They accused other parents of cheating because they had sports shoes on whereas other parents had just come from work, so they just did the race barefoot. The dad went as far as demanding a re-match on a more level surface...

Other parents just did a funny pose at the start line to make the kids laugh, ran the race and went home.

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20. Absentee parents

I was a TA for a 5th period 8th grade English class for kids who weren't special education, but were troubled and did not want to learn. Kids who would yell "screw you" when the teacher would have a pop quiz and then turn in an empty page.

There was one kid who was incredibly hard to deal with. He would get in daily shouting matches with the teacher, he would run out the door when her back was turned and try to scale the fence, things like that.

One day, after the class had had a particularly good week, the teacher rewarded them by checking out Princess Mononoke from the library. I'd never seen the kid so quiet. He was absolutely entranced. And then a character said a swear word or bled and the teacher freaked out and turned it off.

The kid responded by throwing his chair at the whiteboard. He was suspended for a week and his parents were called to pick him up. They answered their house phone, acknowledged that they understood the situation, said they were on their way, but they never came to pick him up. I ended up driving the kid home and he told me that both of the cars in his driveway were his parents' cars. They just didn't bother.

The next day, his parents dropped him off at school again, despite the suspension. He sat in the office all day, his parents not responding to calls to pick him up.

A parent-teacher meeting was scheduled with the parents, but they didn't show. This happened about three times before the teacher gave up on having one.

We never actually met the parents face-to-face, but at that point both the teacher and I understood exactly what kind of parents they were and why the kid was the way he was.


19. Tough love, maybe

We expelled a kid who destroyed a classroom and office totaling about 4 grand worth of damage. He assaulted 4 staff members who were trying to contain him without touching him (no one wants to lose their job over this kid), one of them required medical attention, and he threatened to accuse his teacher of sexual and physical abuse.

During the meeting with his parents we were told that all he needed from us was "love".

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18. It's an uphill climb when your parents don't care

I was a tutor working for a charity who helped children who were not doing well in school. We helped with their numeracy, literacy, and social skills as an after-school program.

We had a child there who treated it like a joke. Always saying that reading and math were not worth it in the long run. The mother would always arrive after we had finished with the children and whisk them away without talking to anyone. Took us all a long time to get the child warmed up to the idea that reading could be fun.

One day his parents arrived and it all made sense. To put it nicely, they were dumber than a box of rocks. Poor grasp of English in general, no interest in their child's progress, and maintained that their child only needed basic levels of literacy and numeracy. It was incredibly sad to witness, especially since their child quickly developed a voracious love of reading. He very rapidly gained a reading level several years above the one he was in (second grade). Watching him progress so rapidly warmed me, but it also makes me sad that he is not getting the academic support he needs from his parents

When I left the charity a couple of years after first meeting the parents, he had just started reading adult novels and was surprising me with his insight on relatively complex topics. He was a particularly smart kid and I truly wish him the best in life.


17. Apples fall from trees

A couple years ago when I taught 8th grade social studies.

This one female student, a real nice girl and somewhat quiet and reserved, but she had a huge attendance problem. A good week would be her showing up twice. To her credit when she came back she would at least make an attempt to make up the work, but when you miss 3-4 days a week it’s a crap ton of work to make up. She had already failed the 8th grade once (and apparently 6th grade too), and the school actually wasn’t afraid to hold her back again.

So during May (with about 1 month left) we started having parent conferences for those who have students in danger of not moving to 9th grade. Mom comes in wearing pajamas, her gut sticking out of her shirt carrying nothing but her phone and her Newports. We start explaining the situation to mom and she couldn’t care less. She told us she’s probably off with her boyfriend (a 21 year old, actually a former student of mine as well). Mom kept paying her cell phone bill, let the 21 year old boyfriend crash at their house occasionally, etc. I’d show mom examples of the work her daughter was capable off and was completely indifferent to it.

Everything clicked to me upon meeting mom, she was essentially encouraging her daughter not to care about school. It’s a shame because the student was really bright and a sweet kid, and had so much potential with even mediocre support at home. Mom was probably raised the same way, and just everything made sense to me.

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16. Great advice

Pretty much every time there's a parent-teacher conference, yeah. The kid who doesn't do his or her work? There's a good chance that the parent's too busy on their phone to actually pay attention to what's going on. The kid who acts out in class? Parents either spend the whole meeting screaming at the kid or they spend it screaming at the teacher.

I do remember one specific conference when I was a student teacher, though. A kid had been having trouble with another student and had been escalating things pretty aggressively. When we talked to mom about it, mom responded with something very close to, "Well I told her that she oughta slap that little [bleep] in the mouth."

Gee, I wonder where the kid got it from?

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15. The writing is on the wall

Had a kid who would struggle to listen to anything or follow directions. When told what to do he would break down. Eventually got him to start listening a little bit. Met his mom. She lets him do whatever he wants. Even write on the walls in their house. She’s too scared to tell her own child no.

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14. Everyone is fighting a battle you never get to see

Had one kid (7th grader) selling and smoking on campus (this is before it was legal, even now you still can't have it on campus). Told the mom, and she said, "I know, I gave it to him. It's his medicine."

Had another kid who would freak out whenever asked to do something he didn't want to. He'd scream, throw things, cry... And he's in 10th grade. Once he punched through a glass trophy case. Met the mom and explained that her son seriously needed an environment with more one on one support. She said he was just dehydrated and we shouldn't be so hard on him.

Final one is more sad. Had a kid that was constantly getting in to fights for no apparent reason, would inappropriately touch girls then vehemently deny it because "he's not a monster." Found out from his mom that his dad was shot on his front lawn when he was 6, he was bullied ruthlessly since 3rd grade (now he's in high school), at 14 he's the oldest of 4 and expected to be the man of the house. If that was my life I'd probably want to take it out on everyone else too.


13. Learning how to be angry

Small kid in Grade 4 (9 yr old) threatened another kid on the playground with a knife and said 'I'm gonna kill you.'

Called in his mother who was quite appalled but she warned us about his father. Exactly as she said, the man was unhinged. Within a few minutes he was raging angry and threatening the administrators. He was escorted off campus. Later he threatened to come back and the campus was locked down for the only time I remember in its history and police were alerted.

That poor kid has no chance of growing up 'normal' His dad is a bomb with an extremely short fuse.

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12. "Her mother couldn't stand her"

I had a little girl in my pre-k class, age 4, named A. She was a delight. very smart, very well-behaved, and just lovely. Always got good behavior marks and was always excited to be at school. I used to braid my female students' hair after they would wake up because their hair would always be in tangles and A was coloring and shouted out, "Miss Kent is so good at doing hair!" like she was singing a song to herself. She was honestly one of my faves.

Her mother couldn't stand her. Some days they'd get along fine, but more often than not A would sour as soon as her mom came to pick her up. One day, during morning drop off, I'm sitting at my desk while the kids are playing at their tables before the actual 'school day'/academics begin, and I look up to see A being dragged by the wrist into my classroom by her mother.

Her mother hauls her in front of my desk, lets her go, and says "she's your problem now" and walks out. I didn't have enough time to even greet nor say goodbye to the mom, she was in and out of there so fast. I walked around my desk and gave A a big hug and told her how glad I was that she was at school today and she immediately brightened, had a great day, etc.

I don't think mom was actively abusing A (like, nothing to call CPS for), but it was painfully obvious she did not like her daughter. It was heartbreaking.

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11. You know it's bad when your mom gets expelled

The mother who was screaming in the office “I’m gonna hit you in your [bleeping] face” because a tutor dared to say the kid was having behavior issues during free tutoring.

Now I know why 5 of your 11 kids in our school are terrible hot messes. Poor things don’t have much of a chance.

Mom was banned from the building because this was the last straw.

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10. Hitting doesn't work

My first year teaching (10th grade) in a country in Southern Africa, there was a girl in my class who was the queen bee. She looked older than she was and bossed all the other students around. She could be a real bitch (so I thought at the time). Constant attitude. Encouraged other kids to ignore me or defy me. A pain.

We had a sort of parent-teacher conference. I brought her behavior up with the parents. They said we know she has a terrible attitude. We beat her all the time, and it does nothing. So what are we supposed to do? They seemed genuinely at a loss.

And from then on I just felt bad for her. Her teenage rebelliousness seemed a lot less offensive. Knowing that she had been beaten repeatedly...her bad attitude had been branded onto her.

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9. Nothing like failing up

This one is more about privilege than behavior. I'm a college professor and I had a student who put in minimal effort into everything he did, just barely enough to pass his classes. Over the course of four years, I get to know many of my students fairly well and I'm obviously very interested in their careers and immediate work plans after graduation. This particular student always humble bragged about how he'd get a great job and, amazingly, a few months before graduation, he informed everyone that he already had a fantastic job lined up in a major metro area a couple states away.

I found this astounding, because not only was the job in our field (which was surprising enough), it was with a good-size company I'd actually heard of. The student acted like he got the job due purely to his skills and efforts throughout college, and since I knew neither of those was true, I had huge doubts he even had the job at all.

A week or two before graduation we have a showcase where students show off their work, and parents and others are invited. At this showcase, this student's parents came to see his work and I found out that both of them worked high up (one as an attorney, the other in management) in a different large company located within blocks of the place where the student got his job. I heard them mentioning to their son, in an off-handed way as if this were totally normal, that they had spoken again with their friend at the other company, and everything was good-to-go for him to start after graduation.

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8. Gold star parenting

I had a busy, well -known doctor bring in the nanny to the parent/teacher conference. Whenever I spoke directly to the mother she would say to the nanny, "Are you getting all this because you are the one that needs to be paying attention. By the time I get home I don’t want to have to deal with any of this."


7. Can I get a witness?

When I (a woman) was student teaching, my mentor teacher (older guy) and I did parent teacher conferences together. We had a female student and her mom come in. This girl never played attention in class and just wanted to hang out and talk to friends, so we put her on the front row.

Well evidently she needed something to tell her mom why she was failing this class, and had told her mom that the teacher moved her to the front of the room so he could look down her shirt. So her mom comes in angry and yelling at the teacher that he's a pervert putting her daughter in the front row and harassing her.

My mentor teacher just calmly turned to me and said, "Have you noticed any of that behavior in this class? You've been the one teaching for the last two months." The mom and daughter went silent. They had forgot that I, another female adult in the room, could witness for my teacher. They quickly left after that, and I think the mom realized her daughter had been lying to her. I felt great being able to protect a fellow teacher from false harassment accusations.

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6. Shocker: kids lie!

Had a meeting about a kid who wouldn’t turn anything in ever. But of course according to parent definitely not the kid'Teachers screwing the kid over. Never got the instructions. Best excuse: someone broke into his locker and stole specific assignments.

The conversation basically devolved into something like this:

Parent: “We don’t appreciate you teachers, the school, or how you didn’t take the locker break in seriously.”

Me: “We looked into the situation. Camera footage confirms no break in ever occurred on the date your student told us it happened.”

Parent: Enraged “So you’re telling me my child LIED about this?!?”

Me: “Yes.”

Parent: Still enraged “Well how can you be so sure?? People break into cars all the time!”

Me: “Sure, but usually there’s also evidence like broken glass or other damage to the car, possible tools used in the break-in, valuables missing. You get the idea.”

Eventually we moved on from that topic and by the end of the meeting accomplished exactly nothing.


5. Free therapy

We have a half-day where parents sign up for conferences and teachers hang around until 8 with a break. I was catching up on work in my classroom and eating a sandwich during my break, and this mom comes in wearing some pink yoga pants and a big parka. She looks frazzled and immediately starts going on about how she is sorry for her daughter, and how she doesn't do anything at home and basically going on about how bad her kid is. And I'm just not saying anything, just listening.

Then she starts going on about the curriculum, how it's inadequate, and so on. But it's nothing substantial or pointed, she's just whining about her kid, and the school, and whatever else more like I were some sort of therapist than her kid's teacher. She's going on about the math curriculum and my next conference shows up at their scheduled time. The lady goes, "Sorry, thank you for taking the time," and leaves. I didn't say a word the whole time. I have no idea who she was. I have no idea who her kid was. It was really bizarre.

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4. "So it's my kid's fault, not mine?"

I had a student who was a bit of a trouble maker. He liked to mess around a lot and it got to the point it was interfering with lessons. We have a meeting with his parents and all his teachers (normal at my school) just to see what was up and if there were any strategies the parents were using at home that could help us out.

The entire time the dad just keeps asking us to confirm that there's something 'wrong' with his child. No sir, he's just acting like a regular 12 year old boy. Turns out the parents were in a messy divorce after dad was having an affair with a much younger lady. Queue all the acting out and positive attention seeking from the kid.

We signed him up for a bunch of sports and clubs to keep him at school longer, and make some productive friends.


3. "Don't worry, I'll punish her success"

My first year of teaching I had a mother who pretty much ignored everything I was saying and assumed it was all bad - I opened with 'hey, (your daughter) has shown some excellent work in class this semester'. She replies with 'I doubt that, she can't do anything!' When I try and assure her she had in fact done well with proof,she dismissed it and said she will never be as good as her siblings. I then offered some advice for how to improve her already decent grade and the mother replies 'that's it-i'll ground her for a month!' From that point on everything I said she literally added another month on to her daughters 'grounding time' - I ended up just summing up as quick as possible to try and save the daughter spending the rest of her life grounded!

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2. Literal absentee parents

About 14 years ago I was an ESL teacher and had a student who for lack of a better way to describe him was like a feral animal. Many of my students were the children of migrant workers who would come and go through the fall and spring so my class had a sort of revolving door of kids year round.

This student was 15 but didn't have even a basic grasp of social norms and to make matters worse he couldn't speak English so many of his peers and teachers would get increasingly frustrated with him as he continually broke social norms like standing too close to people, touching people who didn't want to be touched, and blowing his nose into his hand.

After his second week in our school I requested a conference with his parents and found that he had no parents listed in our student records. I asked him about this and he told me that he was from Honduras and his mom still lived there. When I asked him how he got to the States he just said that he walked with some other people from his town that his mom sent him with. It turns out that he was living with friends of his mother's friends in their garage in Michigan. He was literally being treated like an animal.

I got to know him really well over the next few years and he told me that his life in Honduras was not all that different. His mother raised him alone and they were very, very, very poor. He was left to raise himself and never really went to school up until coming to the States. My wife and I weren't well off ourselves at the time but we bought him clothes, shoes, and food when he needed them. He became a son to me and had I been more aware of how social services operated I would have fought to gain custody of him. He's since moved back to Honduras, but I still keep in contact with him to this day.

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1. Mr. B gets an F

I taught an elective course in a large rural high school that charged a nominal fee for supplies. “Mr B,” a parent, did not want to pay the fee and set up an after school meeting to discuss it with me.

I had just been assigned an intern and thought it would be good for her to observe a parent/teacher conference.

Mr. B walked into my classroom, and without any introduction, asked loudly “You know what the problem with the world is today?”

Me: “No sir”

Mr. B : “WOMEN who want to live beyond their means, have gone into the workplace and become skanks.”

Me: “Okay. Meeting over. Good bye, Mr. B.”

Later, his child confided in me that he had been abused by his father. As required by law, I reported the incident to Child Services, who revealed me as the source.

The meeting between us in the principal’s office went like this.

Mr. B: “That boy ain’t perfect, either. He hit his stepmother once.”

Me: “Where do you suppose he learned that behavior, Mr. B?”

Principal then had to throw him out when he rose to strike me.

On departing, addressing me, Mr. B stated, “I’ve heard all about you!

I’m thinking, “uh oh, this could be anything”.....

Mr. B: “You’re a strong woman and always get what you want!”


Principal, later: “That’s probably the best parent compliment you’ll ever get.”

The son fled the state to live with his mother. He wrote me a thank you note years later.

Mr. B’s ex-wife went on to publish a book on spousal abuse.

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A Cry for Help

There's this girl in my class, she always comes to school carrying an odd smell. The kids snickered and sneered, but I saw past the superficial to the child beneath. One day, she arrived constantly scratching her head, it was non-stop. My teacher's instincts kicked in, and I pulled her over to ask what was wrong. Tearfully, she confessed that her head wouldn't stop hurting. Upon closer inspection, I saw a bald spot in the middle of her head. My heart sank at the sight.

Concerned for her well-being, I dialed her mother immediately. I hoped for concern, for urgency, for action. Instead, her indifferent response made my blood boil. She just shrugged it off like it was nothing. Right then and there, I knew what to do. No child should suffer from neglect, especially not on my watch. I dialed CPS and within five minutes, they were at the school, ready to step in. The sight of that scared, little girl being led away by a stranger was heartbreaking, but I knew it was for her safety. I just wished the ending could have been different.




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