Dr. Fraser is to be commended for writing an accessible down to earth guide to understanding the multi dimensional nature of the harm that occurs when teachers bully students. This is not a topic we see yet, either in the literature or in popular books, although the press around the teacher bullying that has happened at some leading US universities indicates that public interest in it is wide, likely based on the reality that it is an all too common experience for students.
Parents will want to read this book to understand more of their own and their children’s experiences. When a child comes home from school complaining of peer bullying, the system around them has grown to provide at least some support. The child is no longer ostracized, at least by the adults, in the school system. Complaints are often taken seriously. But when a child expresses concern, either verbally or through behaviour, about the bullying conduct of a teacher, it is much less clear how a parent should respond. Therefore, Dr. Fraser’s book is an important guide to the literature on harmful impacts.
Nowhere is this more needed and less understood than in the realm of sports coaching. Teaching Bullies will educate and empower parents to stand up for their children and make it much easier to hold the bullies, and the administrations that surround and support them, to account.
Fewer teachers will bully after they read this, as they will understand power dynamics much better. But teachers should read this book, even if they themselves do not bully so that they will be able to name bullying behaviour as harmful when they see it in their colleagues.
Our education systems currently demand that bullying students be held to account, but do not deal effectively with bullying teachers especially if they are coaches. The whole school may turn out for an important game. If teacher-coach bullying is routine, one of the reasons it exists is because of the role of collegial bystanders. Fraser’s book looks at the normalizing of bullying in sports and the challenge in speaking up for students and their parents when the bully is the teacher-coach and part of a school system.
Administrators will want to read this book both to understand the phenomenon and to help them to protect themselves and their institution from potential liability as these pathways open up as a means used by desperate parents to protect their children.
Mental health professionals will seek out this book as they are the ones who must handle the aftermath, as children who were bullied by revered teachers and teacher-coaches decades ago end up in their offices with unresolved psychological issues stemming back to the harm that was inflicted at that time.
Policy makers will be interested in this book. The governance of education and educators has dealt now with peer bullying and although there is more work to be done, it is at the implementation stage in many jurisdictions. But there is no systemic approach to protecting children who are victimized by their teachers. Even in jurisdictions where teacher conduct is effectively scrutinized too often coach behaviour is excused. And when it too is regulated, independent schools remain outside the regulatory framework in many jurisdictions. Policy makers will find this book a useful introduction and guide to the reason for concern as well as to the literature and press on the issue in the North American and British context.
Dr. Fraser uses her skill as a story-teller to draw the reader in with personal experiences but she keeps us there with research and strong analysis. This book should be an essential resource for any parent or educator seeking help in learning how to avoid the harm caused by teacher bullies.
Patricia Lane Lawyer*/Mediator/Arbitrator