When we talk about bullies at school we usually mean the largest boys who pick fun of anyone in their vicinity. This is the stereotype of bullies that we all grow up with, but our own experience at school can be quite different. There is no stereotype for girl bullies who can be just as bad as the boys (although more psychological and emotional bullying than physical). No matter what bully stereotype we have in mind it is almost certainly not the teacher.
However, a recent occurrence in Pennsylvania has a mom angry with her daughter’s teachers because it turns out they are her secret tormenters she would never reveal. The mom is suing the school and some of the teachers in particular for making fun of her daughter. How did she know they were the bullies? From a surprising voicemail that only got captured because the teachers forgot to hang up the phone.
Beth Suhon has a lot more than rumour and testimony to go on in court. Suhon is making the claim in court that a few adults working at the McGuffey School District were negligent and forgot to disconnect a phone call directed her way. While she sat on the other line, Suhon came to hear a number of insults and jokes hurled at her daughter, a fifth-grader who had confided in her mom that people were bullying her at school.
The voicemail went on for a few minutes and contained all the evidence Suhon needed to go to court. In the voicemail you can hear the teacher’s making fun of her daughter by saying things like “her teeth are crooked” and other such insults. You can hear one of the teacher’s saying the girl has “no strength” before another jumped in with the condescending comment: “She could coal mine. She could be a good coal miner.” Clearly, this kind of discussion happened a lot amongst these teachers, who seemed to take pleasure in putting her down rather than helping her overcome bullying from her peers.
Suhon has absolutely no time for anyone bullying her daughter. She wrote in a statement that “it was very difficult for me to tell my child, who has been bullied by her peers for years, that she was now being bullied by her teachers.”
The math teacher is apparently the most guilty of the bunch. It has the math teacher that called home and then went on to make those terrible comments without realizing the phone was still connected. To understand just how mean these teachers are, consider that Suhon’s daughter has been diagnosed with Turner’s syndrome and struggles with severe anxiety.
No one is surprised to know that the judge is on the side of the victim in this case.
“The mockery, laughter, and derision voiced by the three educators in the voicemail recording is unconscionable,” wrote the judge. “It is nearly unfathomable, and frankly heartbreaking, to gauge that the speakers are educators working with 10-year old children, and are particularly discussing some of the those children wh0 clearly have significant disabilities.”
At least the long arm of the law can be called upon in cases when proper human decency is lost on some people.