17

Long story short my 9 year old informed me that her teacher told her, "I hate you." The principal conducted an investigation and 1 child said they heard the teacher say something to my child about hate. The principal then asked the teacher and he said the teacher stated he couldn't remember what he said. He told the teacher to apologize and I demanded my child be removed from the class. The principal with some hesitation removed her from the class. I filled out a DASA report and they deemed it unfounded. Which is ridiculous. Do I go further with this? I don't want the school to retaliate against my child however I don't want them to sweep this under the rug. Please help what would you do?

8
  • 14
    "dasa report" meaning: Dignity for All Students Act (NY) Mar 16 at 15:33
  • 8
    Did you talk to the teacher first, alone? How was your and your child's relationship to the teacher before? What was the situation that led to that statement? The teacher could not remember what she said; but could she remember that she was unduly mad and thus harsh? (I'm asking this because at face value, my impulse is to revoke such a teacher's license. But of course, there is always context, we are not machines, cknowledging and apologizing for a mistake counts a lot etc.) Mar 18 at 11:51
  • 5
    Depending on tone, 'I hate you!' can be an expression of envy. It's probably easily misconstrued by a child.
    – Monty Wild
    Mar 19 at 2:51
  • 3
    If the teacher hates the child -- which can happen for a variety of reasons, we are all just human -- and he tells the child he does so, I don't even see anything wrong with that, as long as the teacher does so without venom, and keeps being fair and respectful in dealing with the child. Without further incidents, i.e. the teacher being mean, unfair, bullying etc., I don't even see why the principal should be looking into it in the first place. Teachers are not required to have positive feelings toward their students, and personally I'd prefer honesty over white lies any time.
    – DevSolar
    Mar 19 at 13:11
  • 3
    @DevSolar - That's your opinion as an adult, fine. I also value honesty very highly. But there are social and power dynamics here: the teacher is acting in loco parentis; they are sharing responsibilities for the well being of the child. It is not in the child's best interests to know that their teacher hates them, any more than for a parent to tell a child (and mean it), "I hate you." Even done without venom, it's very damaging, and should not be done. Omission of that "fact" is far kinder (and more professional) than admission. Mar 19 at 16:00

5 Answers 5

48

The remark your child told you about is deeply painful and disturbing, and anger is a justified response. However, please consider that you weren't there. You cannot know with absolute certainty what was or wasn't said, no matter how much you trust and believe your child, because you were not a witness. So far, you've done all the right things: you supported your child, raised the issue with his superior, confronted the teacher, the teacher apologized (I hope), and got your child reassigned to a new class. That should be the end of it, seeing as how you cannot know with absolute certainty what words were spoken. The principal is on notice. It's not about retaliation against your child; anything more now is mostly a malicious crusade.

I agree with @End Anti-Semitic Hate. Let her know she is absolutely deeply loved, and deeply lovable. Explain how when emotions run high, we all say things we don't really mean, because words fail us. When we are impatient or frustrated, we don't identify and deal with our emotions well, which is why emotional literacy is so very important.* "I hate you" might really mean anything from "I feel deeply disrespected and small when you interrupt me in class" to "you remind me of someone who hurt me badly, and I can't deal with that reminder." (iow, "I hate you" often means something entirely different.) It's highly unlikely that the teacher actually hates your daughter, but it is quite possible he may not like some of the things she does. There's a difference. Tell her that many children have told a parent "I hate you!" in anger, and ask her if she believes all the children who say that really hate their parent, or is it more likely that were they just angry/frustrated/hurt about something else that they aren't expressing.

Finally, at some point we all need to recognize that not everyone likes us all the time. What are the truly worthy goals in life? Is being liked by everyone one of them? Is it even possible? It's certainly not too early to start discussing morality and judgement.

What should you do now? To paraphrase someone I respect highly, when you really don't know what the right thing to do is, treating someone as you would want to be treated is always a very good option. If you were the teacher, would you want someone to come after you with guns blazing, or would you hope for compassion?

This is an opportunity to model how to deal with hurt feelings and difficult situations in a healthy manner. Your daughter is learning something from all this. Consider what exactly you want her to learn.

*Emotional literacy is invaluable in helping us handle disappointment as well as fostering many pro-social behaviors.

7
  • 17
    many children have told a parent "I hate you!" in anger -- possibly even this child.
    – Barmar
    Mar 18 at 0:36
  • 1
    A jury during a trial also do not know with absolute certainty what was or wasn't said. Do you really think you should second guess your child if you feel that you know your child well enough, your child version was partially supported by another child, and the teacher did not actually deny it? To me this is very unintuitive, can you perhaps expand? Mar 18 at 1:05
  • 20
    @AndrewSavinykh - People misinterpret/misrepresent things all the time. If emotions were already high, neither the teacher nor the child is a truly reliable narrator of the events. The only other 'witness' heard the teacher say something about hate. That's not exactly a confirmation that the teacher said, "I hate you." That doesn't mean the child didn't interpret it that way. How many adults when, say, their work is criticized complain to a spouse, "My boss hates my work!" There is every reason to be circumspect in this situation, and no reason not to be. Mar 18 at 2:11
  • 2
    The say-so of a little girl is adequate to report the incident to the teacher/his superior. An accusation was made, and the incident was looked into. One doesn't need a ton of evidence to make an accusation. It doesn't guarantee you'll be believed or met with a satisfying result, though. Look at the low conviction rate for many crimes. Mar 19 at 3:05
  • 4
    @AndrewSavinykh: Fine, I'll humor your (ill-fitting) analogy: even on a guilty verdict, there are limitations are to how severe a punishment can be (both prison time and fine amount) relative to the crime you've convicted of. Even a guilty verdict (which is already well more than what the OP can rely on in this scenario) does not give free reign to go on what are colloquially referred to as crusades, i.e. excessive persecution disproportionate to the justification for seeking it. Secondly, if you're into jurisprudence, innocent until proven guilty.
    – Flater
    Mar 19 at 5:59
13

There are two competing things here that need to be expressed:

First, I want to make it clear I personally find your child's relation of events in this case entirely (and unfortunately) credible.

Second, as a parent who also spent some time working at a school (though not currently, and not as a teacher), I've seen too many situations where a young child inaccurately communicates a situation back to parents at home. It's constant. A number of these I have witnessed in person.

Note the child rarely (practically never) actually lies... but they failed to accurately perceive the situation at school, and then failed again to accurately communicate at home what they perceived. And it's usually a small degree on both ends, but the parent is given a version of events that is sufficiently warped and turns into a large misunderstanding when combined. To put it simply: elementary children are unreliable witnesses at best.

I needed to get these out of the way first, because it is relevant: schools are constantly dealing with issues resulting from this kind of thing, the vast majority of which really are nothing. As much as we'd like a fresh view of every situation, this really does infect how administrators are likely to view and respond to complaints; they wouldn't be human if it didn't. It's helpful to understand this going in.


Furthermore (again: unfortunately), because this really is the common dynamic from the view of the school, what has been done is likely the most that can or will be done within this particular school. A child's statement, outside of mandatory reporting situations and without further credible witness support ("something about hate" from another small child will not be enough), is unlikely to even be enough to even leave a note with the teacher's file. It really is pointless to pursue this further with the school.

This is likely why several other answers focus on how you respond directly with the child, rather than next steps at the school.


The only other material thing I could suggest is there may be options to move to another school.

Depending on your location/jurisdiction, there may be other elementary schools in the district available for transfer, and sometimes neighboring districts have programs to allow and even bus in students. There may also be programs for tuition assistance for private schools (including recent changes in a number of states to make this easier).

As we're already approaching the end of the 4th grade school year and 6th grade in many districts is already moving to a middle school/junior high, this would only need to be a one-year change.

Finally, while I don't recommend it long-term unless you already have a stay-home parent situation, and it's often a non-starter if both parents have careers, I have seen one- and two-year home-schooling plans be effective, especially at the late-elementary/early-middle grade levels. (Later than this, and material often becomes too dense/complicated, where even professional teachers have specialized for Math/English/Science etc. Earlier, and it's about the social rather than the academic; any parent can teach ABCs and basic arithmetic to their own kids with modest curriculum help, but K-2 teaches the kids how to sit and behave in a group and relate to peers in a way that, imo, is hard to do 1:1 at home.)

1
  • This answer is just about as good as it gets. I hope it gets seen often, now and in the future. (I am surprised by the first part, but you have more classroom experience than I do. It's so awful, it's hard to believe, but if it happens, it happens. How very sad.) Mar 18 at 13:42
6

I feel for you and your child. You concerns are valid, and your question is a good one. I'll let others answer how to best deal with the teacher, the principal, and the school.

In my non-professional opinion, perhaps more important to your child's future and well-being is to frequently remind your child that they are loved and not definitely hated. You can accomplish this paramount task via both words and actions.

It is my personal belief, that in the long-term, this will benefit your child greatly and may overshadow this horrible experience.

As to dealing directly with this possibly traumatic experience, you'll have to decide if seeking counseling will be in your child's best interest. That counseling may involve your child, you (and your child's other parent, if one is involved), or all of you.

2

I would make sure it's clear to your child that this teacher made a big mistake. And make it clear to your child that you will always defend her and stand up for her.

With that, I would help her move on. Counseling for a single inappropriate remark sounds like excessively dramatizing this.

Anyone who would say "I hate you" to a child should absolutely not be teaching or mentoring in any capacity. This has nothing to do with your child. The teacher himself is in the wrong profession. As other incidents occur and get reported to the principal the teacher won't last long.

I recommend you put this behind you and let your child learn how to be strong, proud, and able to encounter a bad apple.

2

I like some of the other answers but want to add one more option.

Use this as a teaching moment.

Find a way that your child won't feel is blaming them, and ask:

  • Why do you think your teacher felt that way?
  • What was happening at the time?
  • What were you doing at the time?
  • How do you think the teacher was feeling that day?
  • Was there something else going on in the class?

Again, you want to avoid putting blame on the child, but this is a good time to practice some introspection.

Hate is an emotion. We have all hated. Many times inappropriately. But no emotion is wrong, it's what we do with it that is wrong.

Certainly, your child's teacher should not have said, "I hate you."

But it becomes more understandable if your child was being an obnoxious ass (not saying they were, or that it makes it ok).

But teaching your child to look at the teacher as a person, imperfect as they may be, and questioning what they did to make the other person feel so negatively, could be a good exercise.

And even if the teacher/student relationship can't be maintained, understanding the why, can help give closure.

Your child will be thinking about the why anyway, so it can be beneficial to help direct the questions positively. This event did not happen in a vacuum. It's not likely that the teacher showed up for class and said, "Good morning, everyone, except you, I hate you." Looking at the events around the incident could help process they why.

Again, I want to stress and take care so as not to blame the child. And, whatever was happening around the event, the teacher was in the wrong. There should have been a better way to handle it. But if your child was calling the teacher fat and throwing cupcakes at the wall, this might be a good time to mention that if we want others to be nice to us, we should be nice to them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .