Unless you were homeschooled or popular, a majority of people experienced some sort of taunting or teasing in middle or high school, growing up. (And if you were homeschooled, your siblings probably did a decent job of that too). If you’re anything like me, you probably tried to play it off, laugh it off, or ignore it, as if you were not hurt. But deep down, no one likes to be made fun of or have their physical or personal flaws pointed out in a demeaning way.

I was victim of bullying in middle school and my first couple years of high school. However, I want to talk about another group of individuals, apart from myself and peers, who I saw get bullied in school. Think back to middle or high school and try to remember that experience from your teachers’ point of view. I remember many instances during middle and high school, when I sat in class, observing, and thinking “I will never be a teacher. Look at what they have to go through.”

Between my own classroom experiences and those of friends and my siblings, I know that teachers have been called curse words, jeered at because of their clothing or other physical appearance feature, or laughed at when they get frustrated from students not paying attention. Some have been spit at, stolen from, “roasted,” or insulted based on their personal life; some teachers have even had things put in their food or drink.

This issue is close to my heart because my mother is a teacher and I have heard her stories of awful things students have done and said to her, some near the point of harming her and some just for “fun” but nevertheless disrespectful. On one occasion, a student colored a tampon with a red marker and placed it in my mother’s assignment bin. She found it later that evening and was repulsed. Some days at work brought her home on the verge of tears. Why we would want to insult or harm the people who further our own education and wellbeing, I do not understand.

Even if you do not like a teacher or think they are mean, too strict, or stuck up, taunting is never okay. They are human beings who also have difficult lives and bad days, sometimes.

I know that in middle and high school, we are all just kids still trying to find ourselves and our purpose in life. However, everyone should realize that you can do all of that without demeaning those around you. Respect for teachers goes a long way, and such behavior is definitely not tolerated in college. At that point, it will not be a three hour detention or silent lunch, you can be criminally punished for harassment, as you are now an adult. Also, remember teachers tend to be more lenient and forgiving if they have a good class with students who respect them, not just as a teacher but as a person.

One of the most important jobs in the world is that of a teacher. If we do not protect them in every way, then the way they relate to us and their role as educators will become one of detachment and mere formality, and that will not be a pleasant experience. Let us treat all our educators with the respect and honor they deserve for helping us along our life journeys toward greatness.