Ask Amy: Gossip transforms teacher into terrible teen

2014-08-12T00:00:00Z 2015-09-30T11:43:50Z Ask Amy: Gossip transforms teacher into terrible teenBy Amy Dickinson Tribune Content Agency Arizona Daily Star
August 12, 2014 12:00 am  • 

DEAR AMY: There is a teacher at the local high school whom I see at many social, school and sport events. She is always telling stories about the students at the school to anyone who will listen. These stories are highly confidential in nature, such as a young adult who was hospitalized for depression and a suicide attempt, a child who has anorexia and an anxiety disorder, parents who are going through a nasty divorce, etc.

I have both pulled her aside and also said in front of the entire group that she is gossiping and that I think she should stop sharing this information, but she does not stop. She once said that she would not use the child’s name, but it was obvious who the child and family was by the details of the stories.

I feel terrible for these children. This kind of gossip can be very harmful, it spreads quickly and can follow them for a long time. Isn’t this teacher violating guidelines to protect the privacy of these kids?

How can I get her to stop? Should I tell her supervisor or the principal? I do not want to get her in trouble, but I feel I need to help protect these children and their families. I do not want these early episodes and mistakes to follow them through life. — Concerned Parent

DEAR PARENT: When a teacher disrespects students through gossip, it turns the teacher into the very thing she criticizes: an immature, misbehaving attention-hogging teenager.

You have tried and obviously cannot get this teacher to stop gossiping. The only course of action left to you is to contact the principal and possibly the superintendent of the school. If this teacher is violating official privacy guidelines, then she should get into trouble.

This teacher already knows that you have objected loudly and strongly to her sharing of student and parent information, so you should go ahead and put your name to this complaint in writing and ask that the school initiate some needed training to coach teachers on their responsibility to act like adults.

DEAR AMY: Our sixth-grade daughter, “Anna,” has a school friend, “Krista,” whom she really connects with, but Krista’s mother is a nightmare. She intrudes herself uninvited, behaves badly and is overall inappropriate.

Anna and I recently witnessed her yanking Krista around by the hair while insulting her. Privately I told her how uncomfortable what she did to her daughter made us, hoping to advocate for the child. Her response to my admittedly intrusive critique of her parenting was predictably awful, and she told Krista that I think she is a lousy mother.

It has become clear that this woman has a drinking problem. I have been advised by a social worker not to report her as it could cause more harm than good, and the father seems responsible, stable and loving.

Krista is welcome in our home, but I will not allow Anna to return the visits, nor does she want to. Is there a good way to allow Krista to visit my daughter in our home but not in hers? We have been able to find excuses so far, but what do I tell a 12-year-old? — Challenged

DEAR CHALLENGED: This mother already knows you disapprove of her parenting because you were brave enough to be honest with her. She has told her daughter that you think she’s a lousy parent — and so it is out there. Explain to “Krista,” “I’ve talked with Anna about this and I don’t feel comfortable sending her to your house right now. But we always love having you here and would like you to be with us whenever you want.”

You don’t need to supply reasons, but let the girl know that the directive comes from you.Contact Amy Dickinson by email at

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