Denial by Teachers

Bullying sometimes goes ignored by teachers because they may:

  • Not have detected it, or they may know that something is going on but not the extent of it or the effect it is having on the victim.
  • Feel powerless to act unless the bullying is physical.
  • Think the child is imagining or exaggerating it.
  • “Turn a blind eye” rather than have to deal with it.
  • Not know how to handle it.
  • Already be working in an impossibly pressurised situation.
  • Feel frustrated without the support of the principal or other staff.
  • Feel disillusioned by the lack of an effective anti-bullying policy.
  • Be slow to admit it as it may damage the school’s reputation, even though having an anti-bullying policy should enhance it.
  • In other cases, a teacher may, unwittingly or otherwise, engage in, instigate or reinforce bullying behaviour by:
  • Using sarcasm or other insulting or demeaning form of language when addressing pupils.
  • Making negative comments about a pupil’s appearance or background.
  • Humiliating directly or indirectly, a pupil who is particularly academically weak or outstanding, or vulnerable in other ways.
  • Using any gesture or expression of a threatening or intimidating nature, or any form of degrading physical contact or exercise.
  • Unconsciously colluding with pupils – if they find a child particularly irritating, they may allow a degree of bullying of that child to take place. They may at one level derive satisfaction from the teasing or may chose not to intervene.
  • Being unaware that they are bullying but by victimising a child, it helps them retain or regain control of the class by diverting negative attention away from themselves and focusing it on someone else.


A teacher has the capacity to ridicule a whole class, while it has also been known for teachers to be bullied by a whole class of children.