Teacher CyberBating: Terrible Teens in the Classroom

This post is from our series on Virtual students and how school has become more and more online.  See our other posts from the Virtual Student series here.


Have you heard of this new trend? Unfortunately, students have always liked to taunt or bait teachers (substitutes in particular have always been the target of teen angst).

I have to admit when I was in 5th grade I had a teacher who everyone thought was really young, pretty and cool and we all staged our own ‘uprising’ by dropping our pens at 1:52 one particular Thursday.  This was planned for weeks and was the biggest act of defiance for any of us.  It took us many recesses to figure out what we could do, but not get in trouble for…dropping a pencil, cannot get in trouble for that.  It was sort of anticlimactic, we all stared at the clock from after lunch to 1:52, dropped our pencils, laughed and went back to grammar.

Now there is a new form of teacher taunting called teacher bating.  The incident is usually just the beginning.  When I heard some of my students talking about this I was horrified and wanted to bring it to you, my parent readers to address with your kids.  I am now brining it up with all of mine.

What: Students egg on or irritate a teacher until the teacher gets so frustrated or fed-up they yell or have a breakdown.  Students are ready for this ‘crack’ and have multiple students filming the incidents on cell phones so they can later post the meltdown on YouTube to get the teacher or school in trouble or shame them.

When:  This often happens when a particular student is angry at a teacher about a bad grade, or being called out on bad behavior and this is the ‘retaliation’ students come up with.  Also, if there is a particular teacher that all students dislike for a particular reason (too strict, discrimination, alienating other students) this could give cause to students wanting to start an uprising.

: Multiple students get together, figure out what they can ‘bait’ the teacher with (if the teacher hates when people are late or leave paper shreds all over the floor, etc.) and then arrange to have students situated around the class with camera phones to film the bating students and the teacher.

The students ‘bait’ or bully the teacher into having a meltdown or explosion, film it, put it on YouTube later in the day and start emailing it around.  Or, film it and bring it t the principal to show the administrators how ‘horrible’ this teacher is ‘everyday.’

Why: There is never a good reason why, and I owe everything I do today to the fabulous teachers I have had all the way through school.  I couldn’t imagine doing this to a teacher, I couldn’t imagine watching other students do this to a teacher.  The problem is exacerbated by ‘innocent bystanders’ who let the plan get conceived, carried out and posted without saying anything!  In my opinion, many of the instigators are bored, angry and want attention.

How to Fix It

I am now talking to all of my students about this issue, some are just as horrified as I was to learn about this trend, others can tell me about plans that they had (or friends had) that got foiled because the teacher couldn’t be baited enough for anything ‘juicy.’

-Talk to kids about this issue.  Tell them that there are no innocent bystanders.  If they see a teacher being baited and/or filmed they need to say something to the teacher.

-I like to talk about specific scenarios.  It is shocking how many teens know that this is wrong, but would be too embarrassed to be the ‘tattle’ and rat out friends who are filming.

-Brainstorm with them a variety of ways they can tell the teacher they are being filmed, confront the kids or tell the administration anonymously.

-If you are a teacher, or you know teachers, let them know that this is going on.  If teachers are aware of this they can be more on alert if students are acting oddly, they should always be aware of students who have phones out in class (never should).  Please forward this along.

-To administrators, set-up an anonymous forum, box, time where students can report incidents or plans that might be in the works against teachers or other students.  Make this known to the student body.

Overall, it is important to be informed as parents, teachers, administrators and teens, talk to each other about this issue.

Thank you,

5 Responses to “Teacher CyberBating: Terrible Teens in the Classroom”

  1. hall monitor
    July 20, 2008 at 8:32 am #

    It is a shame incidents like this are common. See what else teachers are getting in trouble for at http://detentionslip.org. Voted #1 for crazy education news.

  2. Badgermama
    July 21, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    so, when I read this, I think of the cell phone Youtube videos of teachers and of some of my own teachers in junior high and high school. And I’ve seen some horrible teachers! People who were just abusive ! It makes me glad that teenagers today have cell phones and cameras to record it and tell their side of the story. I am worried that by posting this, you are helping to devalue, or invalidate, the teenagers’ point of view. In other words, now when some teacher is caught on film being a jerk, everyone can say “Oh, they were provoked into it deliberately by the students.” I question whether that matters. And a good teacher should not “crack” like that and scream abuse at their students no matter what the provocation. It is still unprofessional.

  3. Vanessa
    July 23, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    I do NOT want to invalidate a teenagers point of view, but want to make everyone aware that there are better ways to deal with inappropriate teachers than by baiting them and putting the video up on YouTube.

    You are right, it is never OK for a teacher to crack or yell at students, but it is also not ok for a student to film a video and then send it around the Internet. If a student is upset with a teacher they should tell the administrators and parents first. If they decide to film a video, the best course of action would be to take it to an administrator, not spread it around as gossip.

    A teenager’s point of view is paramount (hence why I have a bunch of teen writers and wrote a parenting book as a teen) the hard part is teaching them how to disseminate their opinion appropriately. Many of the cyberbaiting youtube videos are very vengeful.


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