Swearing in any workplace environment including academic institutions is considered unprofessional behavior. And while educational institutions respect the first amendment rights of both teachers and students, schools are within their rights to implement policies to curb the use of inappropriate language in their institutions.
Schools have the authority to regulate the use of any inappropriate language considered threatening or disruptive to the orderly operations of the school. Both teachers and students are prohibited from the use of certain language within the limits of the school’s authority.
This includes the usage of inappropriate language during school and other school activities both inside and outside school. While the punishment for the use of inappropriate words or language may differ, the use of the “F” word in some schools can be grounds for suspension in the case of students.
That said, students aren’t the only ones prohibited from the use of inappropriate language in school. Teachers are also required to remain professional in the administration of their duties which includes refraining from the use of inappropriate language.
Like students, teachers also retain their rights to free speech on the school grounds but are required to adhere to the school’s policies on the use of appropriate language.
Unfortunately, there have been instances where teachers were reported for swearing at students.
Can Teachers Swear At Students
Teachers are trained professionals to help students understand the necessary concept available in the curriculum. And although dealing with a class full of students from different backgrounds and with different personalities can be challenging, they’re expected to remain professional in the administration of their duties.
Parents, schools, and communities, in general, expect teachers to serve as role models to their students. They’re expected to use appropriate language and remain professional in their interaction with these students.
Children are impressionable and parents expect teachers to refrain from the use of any inappropriate language that could negatively influence their children. But the question remains, are teachers allowed to swear at students.
No, teachers should never swear at their students or in the presence of students irrespective of their circumstances. Teachers who swear at students are in breach of their institution’s policies and could face disciplinary actions depending on the context.
Most educational institutions have policies against teachers using inappropriate language in the presence of students. Parents who become aware of a teacher who used any inappropriate word would reach out to the institution and if poorly handled, could negatively impact the reputation of the institution.
Teachers are expected to avoid the use of such words irrespective of the situation, especially in the presence of their students. That said, in the event that a teacher accidentally uses an inappropriate word in the presence of a student, they can get ahead of the problem by leveraging one or all of the following approaches.
What Teachers Can Do If They Use Inappropriate Words
Students especially those at the early childhood education levels like to recite everything they hear to their parents. Even when they do not understand the meaning of a word, they’ll still remember the word and ask their parents for the meaning.
In the case of students at the primary level and above, they can easily identify inappropriate words and report them to their parents. Teachers who accidentally used such words in the presence of their students can leverage the following approaches to mitigate any issues that could potentially arise.
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Apologize and Correct Yourself
The first option would be to immediately apologize for the use of such a word or words. You can subsequently explain to the students that such words are bad and should never be used under any condition.
Own up to your mistake and explain to them that anyone including yourself can make mistakes. What’s important is that you accept your mistake and make up for it if possible.
This should hopefully be the end of the issue but students might inform their parents about this. To avoid any further issues, you can leverage the next approach
Alert Your Superior
The next step is to inform your department head of this mistake. Department heads and principals have also been in your shoes and understand such mistakes. They’ve probably made similar mistakes in the past.
Simply explain the circumstances leading to the accidental use of the inappropriate word or words to them and inform them which class you were teaching or which student(s) you were interacting with at the time of the incident.
This will fully equip them with the necessary information should a parent reach out to them with their concerns. They can better calm any anger from the parent which is directed towards the teacher and the school.
The department head is unlikely to admonish you over such a mistake as the step you’d taken to reach out to them would serve as enough proof of your regret.
Can Students Swear At Teachers
No, most educational institutions have regulations against students swearing or using inappropriate language during school and other school activities. That said, these regulations are loosely enforced in some schools while others enforce disciplinary actions when breached.
Punishment for students in violation of regulations against swearing may range from warnings to detention and suspension in the case of multiple warnings or usage of the “F” word in some schools.
We all get angry but schools are training grounds that prepare the students for life in the workplace. Learning to control your temper irrespective of the situation is key and necessary for students.
Swearing at a person of authority would lead to negative consequences. Inability to control your anger at the workplace would lead to dismissal. As a result, most schools try to ensure that their students abide by their regulations and penalize those who refuse to.
Swearing at a teacher is inappropriate in any situation but it’s advisable to apologize to the teacher after such an incident. We all have our unique situations and can unintentionally swear at someone. Teachers understand this and would understand once the student offers an apology.
Consequences Of Swearing At A Teacher
It’s advisable to apologize to a teacher if you unintentionally swear at them. Most teachers would simply advise you and refrain from proceeding further with any form of punishment. That said, punishment for swearing at a teacher could include
For lighter offenses, the student is verbally reprimanded for the action. Additionally, a notice is issued to the student’s parent in this situation.
The student is given depending on the number of times they’ve committed the offense or the severity of the word or words used.
If your school has a strict no swearing policy, multiple infringements could lead to a few days of suspension. Students are expected to reflect on their actions during this period and learn from the consequences.
Expulsion Or Transfer
Students who refuse to comply with their school’s policy on swearing by continuing to use swear words would receive additional days of suspension. Failure to refrain from the use of inappropriate language after multiple suspensions could lead to expulsion or transfer to an alternative school.
That said, this only applies in extreme cases where previous punishments have proven ineffective and the student refuses to comply with the school’s policy on swearing.
What Do You Do When A Student Swears At You
The use of swear words is increasingly becoming common in the language of children in this age of media. Children learn from adults and swearing has become normal in the speech of most adults.
That said, what do you do as a teacher when your student swears at you?
Refuse to simply ignore a student who uses inappropriate language in your present or swears at you. Ignoring this act would embolden the student to keep up the use of such swear words.
Even in cases where you aren’t certain who made the inappropriate comment, you should address the issue in general. Do not try to identify the culprit or ask someone to snitch on other students. Instead, you should address the general problem by making them aware that the kind of language is unacceptable and disrespectful.
React calmly to any inappropriate language in your presence. Refrain from getting angry and bring to the student’s attention how inappropriate that sort of language is in a civilized learning environment.
Teach Alternative Words
Instead of getting upset with the student, teach them an appropriate word they can use to replace whichever inappropriate word they used. Keep in mind that some students have no idea that the language they may be using might be inappropriate. They might simply have heard the language used by some adults and presumed it appropriate to use.
In the case of younger students, specify consequences for using swear words in the class. Children who use inappropriate words should receive a brief time out. It’s essential that you explain to them that using bad words would land them in such situations.
If the student continues to use inappropriate language despite punishment in previous instances, it would be necessary to consult their parents. Just like teachers, parents play a key role in the education of their children.
Any negative attitude that could affect the child should be related to the parent to identify a solution. Sometimes the problem could originate from their homes as the child may be overhearing their parents using inappropriate language.
Some students might be used to swearing words and would need the teacher’s help. Teachers can determine signals they can use to alert the student whenever they use inappropriate language.