BY EVONNE BARRY
PARENTS are shirking the responsibility of disciplining their kids, turning teachers into makeshift mums and dads. A major Herald Sun survey of Victorian teachers found three-quarters believe parents have unreasonable expectations about the school’s role in raising kids.
And the stresses are showing, with nearly half of teachers surveyed admitting they had considered resigning over the past 12 months. Educators say parents have become too fixated on being “friends” with their children, and are increasingly neglecting their duty to enforce boundaries.
Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh believes students are increasingly likely to be sent to school without adequate discipline from home. “It’s well beyond the duty of a teacher, but they can’t ignore it,” Ms Leigh said.
“We’ve got to a situation where often kids are asked (by parents), ‘What do you think, darling?’ But kids sometimes don’t know best – it’s important that parents make those decisions; important for the kids and their development.” The survey of 816 primary and secondary teachers, conducted and analysed by Galaxy Research, also found:
HALF of all teachers surveyed have been verbally abused by a parent;
THREE in five teachers say students do not show them enough respect;
ALMOST 80 per cent of teachers say cyber bullying is a problem at their school, but that students are still largely unaware of the dangers of social networking sites such as Facebook. While the majority of teachers said they would choose teaching if they could start their careers again, many said their job description was broadening rapidly.
Seventy-five per cent believed “parents expect teachers to provide all the discipline for their children”.
This was despite 67 per cent of teachers saying parents supported their authority in the classroom. While teachers’ perceptions of bullying overall were unchanged over the past two years, comparing results from the last Herald Sun teacher survey, their concerns about the impact of cyber bullying were rising.
And the proliferation of social media meant round-the-clock problems, such as cyber bullying, were taking up learning time. “It occurs at home, yet we are the ones who have to deal with the mess,” one teacher said.
“A lot of parents are reluctant or unable to ‘parent’ and expect schools to parent for them. We cannot control what happens outside of school hours.”
Another teacher said: “On more than five occasions this year, parents have brought in excess of 200 pages of Facebook transcripts and (said), ‘We’ll leave it to you to sort out’.” “Parents don’t monitor their children and expect teachers to ‘watch the dog’ 24/7.”
Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy believed the pressure to clamp down on discipline was largely coming from state government policies such as increased powers for principals. “But you can’t just impose these things if you don’t give teachers the appropriate support,” Ms McHardy said.