Student/Teacher Boundaries

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by sunbeachgirl, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 7, 2013

    Before I became a teacher I never imagined how hard it would be to navigate student/teacher boundaries. Because I'm a young teacher, a lot of my high school students come to me with their problems. I had two issues come up today that I need advice with.

    1) One student told me she's bulimic. She said she doesn't want anyone else to know. Am I required to tell her parents or at least the school psychologist?

    2) A student asked if I could sit with her while she makes an appt. for STD testing at Planned Parenthood. Should I stay away form this situation?

    I'm afraid that if I tell their parents, the parents will freak out (understandably) and then the students won't trust me again.

    What do I do?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 7, 2013

    How did you react initially?
     
  4. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Feb 7, 2013

    One thing I would advise is being clear you cannot promise not to tell and explain if you believe that they are being hurt or hurting someone it is a requirement to tell. I am sure some high school teachers on here have better wording for it. I would say the bulimic child at least talk to a nurse. The Planned Parenthood issue be cautious about telling anyone some states have laws that parents cannot be informed without the child's permission.
     
  5. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 7, 2013

    When the student told me about being bulimic she opened up her arms like she wanted a hug so I gave her a hug. I told her that if she ever feels very very sick or throws up blood to tell an adult right away.

    When the student asked about calling Planned Parenthood I asked why and she told me about having unprotected sex with multiple guys. I told her tomorrow we can look into it. I didn't really promise that I would help.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 7, 2013

    I believe that it's best to learn how to tactfully refer students to a school counselor. It's nice that students see you as worthy of their trust, but you need to be very careful about how you handle their issues. Counselors (and, in some cases, school nurses) are trained in how to handle these sorts of issues, whereas most teachers are not. Since it's outside your scope of practice as a teacher, you need to refer the student to a more appropriate source. You can and should do this carefully and lovingly.

    I sort of always try to live my professional life by the rule that I don't want to do anything that might end up hurting a student. To me, if a student has a serious eating disorder and ends up experiencing medical distress (or something worse) because I didn't refer the student to the right source, then I would have obviously contributed to the student's suffering (or worse). That's not something that I choose to live with.
     
  7. Special-t

    Special-t Connoisseur

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    Feb 7, 2013

    Do not sit with her while she calls planned parenthood. Tell her you need to refer her to the school nurse or the counselor.
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Feb 8, 2013

    For the student with bulimia, try to get her to talk to the school counselor or nurse. If they don't, tell the counselor yourself.

    With the Planned Parenthood, tell them to talk to the nurse or the counselor
     
  9. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Fanatic

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    Feb 8, 2013

    I have a slightly different take. When I girl comes to me and says she's pregnant or may have an STD, I ask her what she needs or wants, and find the number of the appropriate agency to give her.

    The counselors at our school vary in religious and political beliefs, and while I'd like to inherently trust that those beliefs would not interfere with how they do their jobs, I don't trust that. I worry that if a girl wanted STD testing or information about an abortion, they would not give them complete and accurate information. So I just give them the phone number, and answer questions to the best of my knowledge.
     
  10. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Feb 11, 2013

    I would tactfully refer the student to the school counselor/social worker/nurse.

    In today's society, I am not risking my rear-end. I would push the kiddo along to the professionals that know confidentiality laws inside and out.

    If I happened to hear something, I would take the fall for letting the student know that I feel obligated to report whatever it is. First, I would go to my boss about said situation in a generic format, perhaps a higher admin. Then I would get it out of my hair immediately doing what I need to do.

    You walk a dangerous line of being too friendly or undermining parents. Your call. Like I said, in today's society, not a chance for me. Maybe if I was teaching in the 60s, 70s or 80s, but not today.
     
  11. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Feb 11, 2013

    I'm going to just echo what everyone else said. Get the nurse or school counselor involved. I often tell the student that I'll go with them to the counselor if it would make them more comfortable.
     
  12. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2013

    I wish I would refer her to the nurse. She's a 60-something year old somewhat odd lady who is very socially awkward. I think the counselors at school are better but are more academic counselors than guidance counselors. I understand that I could be held responsible so I will be very careful.
     
  13. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Feb 16, 2013

    Ask the Principal.

    The guidance counselors may be better in this case, even if they are more academic, they had to learn about all aspects of being a guidance counselor :p
     

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