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Swearing at a teacher....thoughts?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lperch, Apr 14, 2016.


What punishment is suitable for swearing at a teacher?

Poll closed Apr 28, 2016.
  1. External Exclusion

  2. Internal Exclusion

  3. Detention After School

  4. Break / Lunch Detention

  5. Something more severe?

    0 vote(s)
  6. Something less severe?

    0 vote(s)
  1. lperch

    lperch New commenter

    Hi all,

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on being sworn at by a pupil? In particular being insulted directly, i.e your a 'f-ing pri-k' as opposed to just overhearing a pupil swearing.

    Should there be a severe punishment, should we just accept it? I was told by a senior teacher that times have changed and that these days we should just accept it - personally i don't subscribe to that view - our expectations should not lapse because 'times have changed'. If i'd sworn at a teacher when i was in secondary school (not that long ago....around year 2000) it would have meant certain exclusion for a period, and apology in front of the class and an immediate phone call home....

    In hospitals, and other public places there are all sorts of notices stating that staff have the right to be treated with respect and abuse, verbal or physical will not be tolerated.

    Should this be the same for teachers in class?

    Just interested to hear other people opinions.....
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I did swear at a teacher in Year 9 in an American high school circa 1981. I was given a week's suspension; however, my mother disagreed and fought my corner, ultimately, I had one day's internal suspension for being rude to a teacher and I had to write an apology.
  3. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I think either internal or external exclusion is appropriate. Anything less is a joke for something of this severity.
  4. mrajlong

    mrajlong Senior commenter

    What would happen if you swore at a bus driver/nurse/receptionist etc.like policemen we are expected to forgive and forget. Removing them from your class should be minimum punishment, however I think that is unlikely to happen. We are the punch bags for all t hat is wrong in society. That's why we get paid the big bucks!
  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    My response, as a former secondary head, is that the sanction(s) with which I would respond would be affected by (a) the circumstances of the incident, (b) the student's previous conduct and any 'form' for poor behaviour and (c) the student's conduct afterwards (e.g. if s/he were contrite and apologetic without prompting).

    I don't agree with automatic 'tariffs' - even criminal offences tend to be met with a varying 'sentence' according to a range of factors
  6. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    It depends

    Stealthteaching likes this.
  7. harrypottergeek

    harrypottergeek New commenter

    I think it depends on the situation...
    For what it's worth when I was in Year 7 (I think, may have been Year 8) in the late 90s we had to give a speech in front of the whole class. This was something which at the time TERRIFIED me. We didn't know exactly which day each of us would be doing it so were supposed to bring in our notes every day for a week. On one day I forgot. Inevitably that was the day when my name was picked. I had spoken to the teacher beforehand and explained but she had told me if my name was picked I'd just have to do it anyway. I can understand the reasoning but on the other hand I was a very dedicated, hard working pupil and always handed in homework on time and completed to the best of my ability (this didn't last all the way through secondary school but that's beside the point!) and perhaps she could have cut me a little slack? Anyway I stood in front of the class physically shaking without my notes. I remembered and got through the first few sentences before I completely fell apart. I burst into tears and shouted at her that I hated her for making me do it and called her a b*tch. I don't recall whether I prefaced it with the f-bomb. I then ran out of the classroom in tears. I was mortified.
    I was also full of remorse and felt terrible. I apologised at the end of the lesson and she also apologised to me. I wasn't punished. But I told my Mum (I don't know whether anyone from school phoned home). As a result we were quickly able to get past it (I did my speech a couple of days later) and our relationship wasn't damaged. She was, and remained, a teacher I really liked, respected and wanted to please/ impress.

    Of course it sounds like your situation was very different but just thought I'd throw this out there. There's not one hard-and-fast one-size-fits-all sanction for even something that seems straight-forward.

    If a pupil swore at me like that I would certainly expect a sincere apology. Whether I took it further would depend on the situation and advice from more senior colleagues but I would probably speak to more than one colleague whose opinion I value. If you do not feel that you are currently able to teach this pupil and move past this then it would seem that not enough has been done so no, you shouldn't just accept it. But be prepared for the possibility that a phone-call home may be worse than useless, depending on the parental attitude.
    Middlemarch and sabrinakat like this.
  8. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    If we told the head teacher to eff off, we would be in a whole lot of trouble, probably a final written warning to stay the least. If children went into the workplace when they left school, and told their boss to eff off, they would be probably be immediately dismissed.
    It is not acceptable to cuss and swear at anyone, let alone an adult who is in a position of responsibility. In accepting that this happens, we are not preparing children for life outside school. If I had been suspended for swearing at a teacher, my dad would not have been fighting my corner, he would have been furious with me, hurt, and mostly ashamed. Its nothing to do with age either. If my child had done the swearing, I would have felt the same.
    pepper5 and palmtree100 like this.
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    As others have said a lot depends on the particular circumstances and what was the precursor to the incident.

    Personally if the student had deliberately said it, I would inform the student of why I objected and ask them to think of why they had done it and if they felt it warranted, give me an apology.
    Gives the student a let out, but puts your position clearly, whilst showing the student you have some understanding of their emotions.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It all depends.

    Context is everything.

    Kids make mistakes and have to learn so we should expect them not to get it right some of the time.
  11. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    Having worked in jobs outside schools, I clearly understand the context of swearing, and recognise that there is plenty of bad language that goes on between colleagues. I've heard plenty in the staffrooms I've frequented too. If an individual swore at their boss in a work environment, however, they would be disciplined - possibly sacked.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes, Caligraphy.

    But kids haven't learned that yet. They haven't reached that point. Some will only learn that lesson after pretty severe consequences and some, at an earlier stage, have to have the whole thing explained.

    Until they've had it put to them very clearly some of them simply don't get it. So they have to be given a chance. Maybe two chances.
  13. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Strange how no one uses swearing as a springboard to educate. If someone called me a F?#~ing whatever I would ask them to describe what one is. A friend of mine's grandson at school was called a gypsy B~~s##d which made no sense because he was born in Latvia, did not live in a caravan and his father lived with him. I explained this to him and he left armed with an intellectual response to a meaningless expletive.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  14. josienig

    josienig Star commenter

    I had a swearing incident with a student a number of years ago and after the behaviour system had been gone through she came back to apologise. We had a chat about the incident and I asked if she would swear at other adults..it went along the lines of: mother..yes. father..sometimes. Supervisor in her part time job? A horrified look..'no way! I'd lose my job!'
    If a student uses inappropriate language in my classroom I do pull them up on it and explain that they have to learn the difference between formal settings and larking about with pals. They have to be aware of what they say and become self-censoring. I'll forgive anyone a genuine mistake though some push their luck and they get a fuller, more in-depth explanation :)
    I'm not talking about losing their temper, getting really angry and not knowing the next word that comes out..those situations have to be dealt with in context. All that said, I'm one of those who think that a personal verbal to a teacher or school staff is unacceptable in most situations.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2016
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I would like to add to my story that I had been picked on by said teacher for weeks with very demoralising comments (I have auditory dyslexia, so listening to/speaking a foreign language is very hard, hence moving over to Latin) about how stupid I was, I swore at the teacher and walked out. I did write an apology because I was rude, but I was also 14, living with a very clever older brother and just felt worthless. Context is everything - if a child is swearing, it isn't automatically the child's fault, it may be the only way that they can express themselves OR that if they respond in such a way, somebody might figure out why. Yes, sometimes, it is just nastiness, other times, it is complete frustration..
  16. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Of course, it depends on context.
  17. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    The most common response I've seen is some sort of internal exile for a day, and an apology. If the insult was made in front of a class I'd expect an apology to be made in front of the same class, but in reality the timetable would dictate otherwise. The 'apology' usually consisted of them muttering from an invisible script at break or lunch time whilst a grumpy looking HoY loomed in the background.

    If I had any sort of rapport with the child and they were just having a bad day I'd be tempted to say something like "Next time keep it inside your head - like I do."
    loodle1 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  18. zeven4434

    zeven4434 New commenter

    How long detention do you get if you swear at a pupil and disrupt the class?
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You tend to get sacked, permanently.
  20. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    If it's a pupil doing that (rather than the teacher), then the teacher will just be given support to ensure their lessons are more interesting and that they can defuse aggression before the pupil lets rip.

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