Doing all that I can?

I work in a tutoring center. Kids come from numerous backgrounds. One disturbing trait I have noticed with (particularly Asian) kids is them telling me that their parents hit them if they don’t get good grades.

Now, to me, the threat and/or application of physical violence toward a child to get them to get better grades sounds really counterproductive. They are only working hard out of fear of reprisals. I wonder if they are really learning anything in this state, since it seems like they only work hard/do what they are told because they are afraid of getting hit. Frequently the bar is set very high, so these kids feel a lot of stress/anxiety over getting a B or even an A- in a class. Not surprisingly, they are OBSESSED with their scores.

The way things are run here, if a student is getting tons of 100%, that means that the coursework is probably too easy, and we bump them up a level. Ideally we want to see 70% and 80% scores on assignments, because that means it is easy enough for them to understand/improve, but challenging enough that they can actually learn from mistakes.

Whenever a student tells me their parent hits them, I always tell my manager. What bothers me, however, is that it seems like the managers don’t really take these things seriously. Now granted, it is entirely possible some kids are lying to my face to try to get sympathy points- I’ve never seen marks/bruises on kids who said their parents hit them. But the way some kids act sometimes makes me feel that something is going on.

One of the biggest things that makes me disgruntled about my job (and the partial reason I’ve been continuing to look for other employment) is that the managers use the for-profit institution excuse for a lot of these kinds of conerns I levy. What do I mean? I mean the managers take a very hands-off approach to issues like abuse and such. I feel like a student could admit to being sexually molested, and so long as it didn’t involve any of the staff, nobody would do anything. :mad:

I think you’ve every reason for concern. What age are we talking about here?

Typically 5th-7th grade kids. When they mention it, it sounds not so much like they are confiding to me, but that it is just a normal thing. In casual conversation, regarding punishment, I’ve asked some students, “Do you find it typical for Asian-American parents to hit their kids when they do badly in school?” and they reply with, “Yeah. If an Asian kid does bad in school, they hit them. It seems like the white kids just get grounded or have toys/privleges taken away (this sounds reasonable). An Asian’s mom’s version of ‘you’re grounded!’ is just hitting them” :eek:

If you suspect real abuse is going on, you should report it to the police or Child Protective Services. You may even be legally obligated to report (depending on your state’s laws, since you may be considered a teacher?).

The thing is, many many people believe that hitting a kid is just another form of discipline. A line has to be crossed for it to become abuse. Hitting a child with a hand, without resultant bruises, probably doesn’t cross that line. I 100% agree with you about the stupidity of this “discipline” approach (I have never and would never “spank” a child), but you and your supervisors may not really have much legal ground to stand on here.

This is quite true; if you are considered a teacher, you are a mandated reporter and are required by law to report cases of suspected abuse to the proper authorities.


Before you do such a thing, I would strongly encourage you to print out a copy of the state law which shows that you are considered a MR, then go to your boss and say “I have reported situations to you that I believe cross the line into abuse; this law states that I/we are considered mandated reporters, and I feel that I would be in violation if I did not also report this to the police/DFCS/DHR.” Then see how your boss responds. Be polite, but firm.

With the details that you have given in this point (i.e., no one is in imminent danger of being beaten to death), in no way should you be making phone calls to anyone without first notifying your employers. If your establishment is for-profit and word got out that they were reporting their clients to DFCS, you would soon have to look even harder for employment.

Quite frankly, although it is not a form of discipline that I personally would endorse, it sounds like hitting/spanking is a common form of discipline in the population you are serving, and I would be very, very careful before making assumptions on how it is being done, or what its future repercussions are. Perhaps these parents are just as horrified at the thought of other parents keeping their kid in their room for a week when they get bad grades. While I would not argue that it is the “right” way to approach encouraging a child to do well in school, I would also not necessarily argue that these children are being abused to the point where the government needs to get involved.

I should also note that my position doesn’t carry the same obligations as a teacher regarding reporting abuse. I know that when I applied as a substitute teacher (and also as a crossing guard) I did have to sign forms stating that I would report any signs of abuse. In my job I didn’t have to do this, and the matter itself isn’t even discussed at all (while conversely in my other jobs it is HEAVILY emphasized)