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How Do I Handle Inappropriate Conduct by a Child's Teacher?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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If your child reports inappropriate teacher conduct, it is important to get involved, immediately. How you handle the situation depends very much on the type of inappropriate conduct involved. For example, if a teacher yells at a student, you will follow a much different path than if the child reports sexual or physical abuse.

For the situation where a child reports inappropriate conduct by a teacher like yelling, or where students simply say things like the “teacher made fun of me in class,” you might first try to address such conduct with the teacher. Often, children have a skewed perception of events that occur. A statement like “She gave me a detention for nothing,” has to be taken with a grain of salt. Statements like “He’s just mean to me,” could mean many things.

Because it is difficult for a child to function well in a class where he feels he is disliked or unfairly targeted, going to the teacher and hearing his or her side of an incident is a useful first step in resolving the issue. In this process, try to remain calm. Adding your anger or frustration to the problem is likely to get you less help, since you will be viewed as unreasonable.

Often, a parent hears a very different story and perception from the teacher than he or she hears from the child. Deciding which or if both perceptions are partially correct can help you decide what further actions may need to be taken. If you sincerely believe your child and the teacher seems to evade or admits to inappropriate behavior, it’s time to involve the school administrators.

If this is the second or third incident that you have tried to resolve, however, and you believe your child is telling the truth, going to the teacher first may not be your best bet. Instead, you may want to report continued inappropriate teacher conduct to the school’s principal. You may also want to make a request, where it seems a situation will not be resolved, to have a child transferred to another class. Sometimes, the best teachers and the best students are not a good personality fit. When this is the case, your child, the teacher, and the class might all be served by requesting a transfer, if possible.

If a child reports behavior that involves touching, sexual conduct, sexual innuendo, or physical violence, going to the teacher is not the best choice. In this case, you should not even want to report to the school’s administration first. For safety’s sake, you may not want to send the child back to school until the matter has been fully investigated. If you truly suspect conduct that breaks laws, your first stop should be the police department.

You can, if you feel you will be supported, also inform the administration, but there is risk here. The administration might not believe you, and might tip off a teacher or ask a few questions that would alert a him or her. This can give the teacher the option of fleeing before investigation begins. These incidents are rare, as compared to the vast number of teachers, but they do occur, even with the best screening. Informing the police first is your best course of action, since they can begin an investigation immediately and gather evidence from your child, and possibly other children, while memories are still fresh.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon997907 — On Mar 14, 2017

To anon5628 - Report him to the police and protect the children from sexual abuse. He needs to be placed on a sex offenders' list as he's a predator and a danger to children. Special Ed children are as vulnerable as non-special ed children. All children deserve to be respected.

By anon997906 — On Mar 14, 2017

I am a mature student learning the piano and today my teacher sent me a message asking me to fund the money to keep the school open for another week. I think that's inappropriate and will probably tell them. The sad thing is, they are a super teacher but why involve me if they can't pay their landlord? The email itself was begging for money!

By anon995258 — On Apr 15, 2016

Is it inappropriate for a female teacher to give a male student a ride to a convenience store without parental permission? He is 18. And she even has a machine calibrator in her vehicle for a recent DUI. No reason was given by either why they went. He had his own vehicle. Help!

By anon988657 — On Feb 12, 2015

Call Children Protective Services when you feel your children are being abused by teachers.

By anon351509 — On Oct 14, 2013

You know what? Sometimes the teacher is flat out disrespectful and wrong. Sometimes they bring their personal issues into the classroom and take it out on the kids. Don't think the kids don't see it, don't think they don't tell on their teachers and don't think that we parents are stupid and don't see it as well.

These teachers must not confuse our silence with stupidity. Sometimes we just know that if we say something in a nice respectful way to the crazy lady, she'll take it out on our kid for the rest of the year. And let's not forget: respect goes both ways and teachers are being paid by the US taxpayers. We and our children are their customers, and playing the "know it all and all powerful" earns you less respect that being real and teaching from a "thoughtful" place instead of a "stuck up" place. Their power is limited because I, the customer, say it is. Don't get it confused!

By anon350342 — On Oct 03, 2013

My child has recently jumped class on my request. By request, I mean long winded discussions with her, then her class teacher and also the headmaster. Although the evidence was obvious that my child`s intellectual and emotional needs were not nurtured by the class environment and curriculum in any way, the head, because I was criticizing his decision, became insolent and patronising towards me, possibly hoping I would go away. Well, I didn't, and, after reporting her behavior to the parent liaison and the deputy head, she grudgingly agreed to put my child a year ahead.

My child is still over achieving, but he gets excluded from class intern trips and activities. He is being told by teachers that he really doesn't belong into that class, that he is only there on my request. When my husband tried to sort this out with the head yet again and wanted to make an appointment with the head, instead of calling us right back, he ordered my boy into his office, as if he had done something out of line, asking him, an 8 year old child, why his dad was requesting a meeting. He told him why, but understandably felt very intimidated. The head teacher also wasted no time telling my son in response that he can`t be expected to go on trips or take part in activities with his class because he simply doesn't belong.

I am appalled by this behavior. Is this classed as bullying? Is the head allowed to intimidate pupils like that? And who do I turn to, seeing as there is nothing to be gained by requesting another meeting with the head, apart from more grief for my son?! I really am at a loss. Please help!

By anon337700 — On Jun 07, 2013

There are a large number of good to great teachers. All too often the one bad apple causes many people to view all teachers in a bad light. The few bad apples should be punished and removed from the classroom. The good to great should be given their just thanks. Keep in mind that blaming a large group of people for the misguided actions of a few is wrong and should sound very familiar in other situations!

Always take things that a child says seriously but with a grain of doubt. There is often elaboration and exaggeration added to skew it to their favor for attention or to get their teacher that works hard to get them to perform in trouble.

Keep in mind also that your little Suzie or Johnny is not always the same kid away from home and is often a very different person.

As to the students who say that their teacher is acting like their parents well, in many states a teacher is considered "in loco parentis" -- that is, the teacher has the legal responsibility as a parent.

Parents, remember that those teachers have your child often for a longer period of time than you do and have to be the ones to be good role models and students often learn how to be good citizens modeling after their teachers and not always their parents.

By anon336595 — On May 29, 2013

My 15 year old's teacher says things I find inappropriate, for exampled, that he gets a brazilian once a year as he is hairy. He has said he wishes my child was dead, called a girl a psycho obscene word, and recently pushed another student into a door, causing him to cry. He keeps refusing to mark her work as she says she can do better. She's redone it three times and he still won't accept it. Now says she will fail for not handing it in. I find it hard to tell my child she just has do put up with it as he has to power to affect her education and marks.

I feel so sad for her and feel powerless. I have spoken to the school and am waiting for them to get back to me. Any suggestions?

By anon335722 — On May 22, 2013

As a teacher, I think it is sad that you would suggest that a student be transferred to another class if it is possible to do so. I agree with you, that some classes are completely different when one student who is causing lots of problems is absent for a day, etc. However, how does switching him to another class teach him anything about respect, cooperation and life?

If you have a boss you don't care for, can you just say "we have a personality conflict, I'd like to have a new boss?" That is absurd! Switching a student to another class is not only giving in to a parent's demands and further enabling their entitlement issues, but it is also communicating to parents that the teacher is in the wrong.

I would personally rather put up with the student in order to help him grow and develop as a person, rather than let him get away with the easy choice. When you think about any important decision that has to be made in life, the difficult choice is always the one that will lead you down the correct path because it forces you to grow and mature. The easy choice is often not only wrong, but also prevents you from learning important lessons.

By anon331143 — On Apr 21, 2013

My 8 year old son has been picked up by his arm twice by his teacher and also dragged by his arm by the same teacher. The teacher taunts him and constantly picks on him. I have taken this through the proper school channels and they are saying it is my son's behavior and advise the borough council he needs a social worker.

There are witnesses, but I will not give the children's names and put them at risk. I have emailed my local MP, the Secretary of state for Education, Ofsted and the Mayor of London, to see if they can call for an external investigation, but the school will only have an internal investigation, so in other words, let's sweep it under the carpet and forget about it. It's not possible it's my son. If anyone has any advice, please tell me.

By anon269083 — On May 16, 2012

A teacher allowed a group of students, 14/15 year olds to watch an unplanned, 18-year-old movie that at home, my child would certainly not watch or ask to watch.

The teacher had not previously watched or vetted the movie or even read the content and allowed someone to stream a movie online and she watched it with them and only at the end of class did she make some remark on its inappropriate content.

To me, sordid, sexually explicit movies are not on the curriculum and I feel she has dishonored my role as a mother and what in general mothers would not allow. What can I do? Another teacher in the same school is reported to be cool and sometimes off his head on weed and allows students to watch clips which contain sordid sexual images. Help. I need to act.

By anon266096 — On May 04, 2012

I'm in junior high, eighth grade.

My teacher doesn't know how to teach, yells at us as if she were our parents and threatens us with summer school.

Last year she told our class, "I will kill you all right now," because we didn't understand a problem. She dresses inappropriately and wears clothes where we can see her thighs, thongs and bra straps. Please help. She's scaring us.

By anon262768 — On Apr 20, 2012

I have a little boy in second grade in special education. He has come home numerous times telling me that his teacher screams and yells all day. Now it has come to the point where he's saying, "I hate school. I hate my teacher. I don't want to go anymore." I called the principal and reported this and have called a meeting with the teacher and her on Tuesday.

Today my son came home and said the teacher told me to tell she's yelling with a big grin on her face. I have tried to deal with this in the past and the principal blows it off saying that it's just her personality and she deals with "tough kids." Should I take this to a higher level? --karen

By anon259087 — On Apr 04, 2012

To all parents who have complains and frustrated about physical public schools in different states:

The only solution for your problems is to register your students to state funded free online public schools. They mail you textbooks and supplies free and if you don't have a computer, they lend you one and also they pay you for electricity and internet use by check at the end of each semester.

It is a blessing, but administrations don't want you to know about this option.

By anon252795 — On Mar 06, 2012

My son told his counselor in school that his father was incarcerated, and the counselor told the principal. Is there a student confidentiality law in place?

By anon248918 — On Feb 19, 2012

I have a problem with my teacher. My teacher is just really mean. She threw a piece of paper in my face for not answering her question and she gave me a detention. Can anyone help me? Every time we have her for a subject I feel like I'm going to collapse when she talks. Please help me.

By anon218687 — On Sep 29, 2011

My second grader came home today upset. He told me when he turned in his math test, his teacher threw it on the floor and told him to show his work. I asked are you certain she threw it on the floor? Maybe she handed it back to you and you missed it and it fell on the floor, and he then demonstrated how she threw it. What do I do?

By anon182439 — On Jun 02, 2011

My daughter's art teacher told her they were studying the history of Australia as an art theme. My daughter said that would be boring so the teacher told her to go back to her own country if she didn't like it. I am furious. What can I do?

By anon136132 — On Dec 21, 2010

My friend and I are freshmen in high school and found a teacher's flash drive with "personal pictures" on them. What should we do?

By Lisa Kitzler Parke — On Aug 23, 2010

What do you do when your child's second grade teacher asks the class who wants to give her a massage? some of the students do this. you contact the school and after an investigation the school board says they cannot fire her because she did nothing that was against the law. now she is going back into her class.

we parents feel she needs to be out of that school. she is a danger to our children and this is not the first time she did this. as parents, what can we do to get her out of our school? can someone please help?

By anon40357 — On Aug 07, 2009

I was forced to quit my job as a teacher because of inappropriate remarks I made to a group of senior boys regarding female anatomy and sexuality. These remarks were made as part of a discussion of a news story about a 17 year old who had forced himself on a drunken 14 year old and was facing rape charges. I decided to have this discussion with no girls present to give them a no-nonsense, clear idea of what could be considered sexual assault. At the end of the discussion they asked me what girls liked sexually. I told them they needed to be stimulated by foreplay manually or orally but that was up to them.

I was way over the line at the end of the discussion. Why did I end up there? Because the boys were sexually active and completely ignorant. Some had committed sexual assault inadvertently. Others were sleeping with their girlfriends and not understanding what to do. At the end of the period they applauded because someone told them something that delineated the boundaries and gave them a practical sense of their obligations to their partners.

Regarding the issues above. I taught the hardest cases: learning disability, Asperger's, ADD, anger management and depression. I also had the class Valedictorian and half the honor roll in my TV program. I treated everyone with respect but I especially treated kids who needed discipline with respect. I created ways to help kids be part of the structure in class without being shamed. I gave value and honor to accomplishments. I let someone who had done less than there best try again and do better. Some kids were tough enough that not much would get through but there so few I can count them on one hand. All a student wants is meaningful knowledge and a sense of belonging.

Teachers, in general, try their best to manage what they can but when something is beyond their tolerance, either for that day or year, they will attack the problem or ignore it. I have heard teachers in the teachers lounge running down student after student detailing how stupid they are, how they'll never go to college, end up in prison, work at McDonalds etc. If they talked about any of my students that way I'd stop them and tell that the kid was doing great in my class and I was surprised at their remarks. Teachers would talk about girls' breasts and boys' hunkiness. There were teachers who sat with their classes and talking about all the men they picked up over the weekend. There were male teachers who had pictures of female students with their arms wrapped around them on their desks in class.

When it came to teaching there are 20 percent of the teachers who we are great, 20 percent who are useless, and 60 percent who are mediocre and abusive. When it comes to students, about 20 percent don't really need a good teacher because they are smart and self motivated, about 20 percent don't need to be in a college bound school or are complete discipline problems, and about 60 percent of students need real teachers working with them to bring out the strengths they have. In the end the 20 percent of the great teachers cannot teach all of the 60 percent middle learners and that is why education is at a standstill.

No amount of money or training will move the middle up. Only a committed teacher and a willing student are required. Willingness can be taught.

By anon34544 — On Jun 24, 2009

You should report this to the FBI ASAP.

By Roz — On Mar 14, 2009

My concern is well overdue for a written complaint, it begins as follows: During my high school years (2002-06) I planned on attending a running start program through a community college. This goal was well established in as early as my middle school years, however was heavily discouraged by nearly every teacher in both the middle and high school (small school less than 500 students in both the middle and high school). Now that I am 21 I understand the school district suffered a funding loss upon my departure from the school to attend a higher education, however, prior to engaging in the program I was verbally discouraged to attend the running start program because (and I quote) "wouldn't be accepted to any colleges after high school, and you won't learn anything there because...etc." Obviously this was a complete falsification. However, at the time I felt disinterested in my overall goal, but I decided to attend the program regardless of teachers attitudes causing me to be subject to further discrimination...teachers grading my papers exuberantly harder than other students, specifically the teachers that had issues with my interest in the running start program. I reported these issues with my school academic counselor and confided in my middle school teacher whom had a hand in my earlier education. Both of these witnesses agreed that I was being treated differently, and negatively. At the time those brief cries for help were about all that I made and they did not go much further than that, however now that I am older and lack much of the fear once instilled in my younger youth I truly want to make a difference.

I don't know if it is too late to do much of anything, or if I could still report this to someone and influence the school (and their students) positively, but if there is any chance I am willing; I just do not know where or how to start.

As a side note, I’d like to mention the overall demographic of the surrounding area: low income, heavy drug use, high teen pregnancy rates, just another traditional uneducated and uninformed ultra-conservative small town. Most of the parents I’ve encountered in the area seem to care less about their children as a whole, let alone their education and I just don't see any possible improvement with out someone taking action. I am deeply concerned for the students in that school losing potential each and everyday...much like myself, there really is not anyone there to speak up for them and I imagine most are afraid to speak up for themselves concerning issues far more complicated than running start.

I feel like if one difference could be made, i.e. someone addressing and taking action towards solving an issue...perhaps other injustices within the same school might come to an end.

By anon12503 — On May 07, 2008

My daughter who is a senior at a high school has had trouble w/ teachers all year from not teaching her correctly (she has a learning disability) after we got that taken care of- now we have had situations were teachers are making comments at her as "ms queen bee"-"yeah we know you're always right" -have had conversations w/ other teachers about her in the class room (while she was in the class) & then turn & look at her and laugh - pulling her out of a class into the hall when there was a situation btw the teacher & her (and both -not just my daughter but, the teacher too) screaming at each other very-very loudly i have statements for other students stating that the teacher was shouting at bre as much if not more comment in the regards as "i'm tired of having 2 deal w/ you mouthy 18 year olds" -just recently one of the teachers decided 2 log onto my daughters my space after reading it 1 teacher (known by name) a high school secretary (also know by name) decided 2 have a good laugh about her & throw comments like "she can't even spell-she doesn't know anything about love or she shouldn't be graduating and many more and as other teachers walked into the office they included them in on the conversation (we have witness statements from other students that heard the little conversation that the school staff decided 2 carry out about my daughter i have talked 2 the principle and even when 2 the superintendent (the super i caught in 2 lies & the principle is new & usually turns 2 the teachers 4 advise i know my daughter is not "perfect" and is a every day teenager as well as having a very strong opinion on things -but, i feel that their taking the authority issue 2 far how can you teach a student 2 respect others if those others have no respect towards you. You can't do that but, i can does not set well in my standards

we are tired of the b.S. And i fell that this will continue when it should not be allowed -students have handbooks to follow

-what about teachers? Can you help us or direct us 2 someone who can

teresa & breann beck

By anon5628 — On Dec 01, 2007

I have a problem, I have a received an e-mail where a married male school teacher has been soliciting young women for pornography.

He teaches special ed kids and even posted that on his site. I don't think he should be teaching kids period. please advise.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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