Mom Was Right to Plant Listening Device on Teen Daughter


schoolEver since I heard that a family had to plant a listening device on their own teenage daughter in order to catch adults at her school who were abusing her, I've been reeling. Did you ever hear one of those stories that just fills you with abject terror? You know the kind I'm talking about -- where a kid is hurt, and you start putting your own kid in their shoes? You start to wonder: if this happened to her, is my child really as safe as I think?

Kourtney Barcus' 14-year-old daughter is described as developmentally-disabled, which certainly puts a more terrifying spin on this case. We already know kids with special needs are at a heightened risk of being bullied. But that's just a bit of what makes this so scary.

The thing is, the girl's parents (well, mom and mom's boyfriend) had been telling school officials that aide Kelly Chaffins and teacher Christie Wilt were harassing their daughter for quite some time and getting nowhere. Planting a bug on their kid was a last resort, and sadly it revealed a pretty chilling situation. The teenager was being ridiculed by the very people who were supposed to be caring for her.

Now think about what we do every day. We send our kids to school. Where teachers and aides are in charge. We have no authority, nor can we keep an eye on what's going on. All we can do is use our gut instincts to gauge whether the stories that come out of our kids' mouths are true. Sometimes our kids are blowing smoke up our you know whats, and sometimes they have a bona fide problem.

But it's hard when you're not there to suss it out. I know I don't want to be that mom who always comes running out with her dukes up because she can't believe her little darling is wrong. I hate that mom.

But when your kids are having a tough time at school, and you believe the story they're spinning is the truth, what do you do? You're not there! It's a kid's word against a respected adult's, and you're wading in blind.

So far my daughter has had nothing but good experiences with school personnel. But if I were ever in a position like Barcus', you better believe I'd be planting a bug on my kid.

How about you? Do you ever feel like you're in an us vs. them situation with your kid's school?


Image via RaeAllen/Flickr



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nonmember avatar A teacher

While I am disgusted by what happened to this student, however as a teacher it is actions like this that make me ready to leave my profession. While I would never be abusive towards a student, when taken out of context any recorded can be dangerous. Also, I am sure there will be a challenge on the legality of taping a teacher in their room.

mommy... mommygiggles317

 I'm a college student working towards a degree in education. I'm also a mother. Never should a teacher be abusive towards students. I get so tired of hearing stories like this. As a future teacher it sickens me to know that there are adults in classrooms that have no business being there!! children are supposed to be safe at school. It's bad enough that kids have to endure this type of crap from there peers, but for a teacher to behave this way is appalling and abusive teachers should be removed from the classroom permanently. If a parent is abusive to their child he/she risks having their child taken away from them. What makes a teacher any different? I'm glad this child's mother did what she felt was right for the best interest of her daughter. I pray that these "teachers" have not caused this child any long term trauma. And I hope and pray that they are never allowed in any classroom ever again!! A damn shame!!

nonmember avatar David

This is just something no parent would want to deal with.

I can only guess how I'd react - ultimately I'd do whatever to back up my own daughter.

As an (ESL) English teacher I can see this raises a lot of issues, and something that would be interesting to discuss.

nonmember avatar Sara

This story makes me so incredibly angry. I am a Special Education teacher in a middle school Intensive Needs program... so students like this one are the kids I have dedicated my (professional) life to. Things haven't been taken out of context here, those words should never come out of a teacher's mouth, and it's unfortunate that this happened to a student who may not have been able to report what was happening. My students' parents could walk into my classroom any time, any day and never see anything they wouldn't approve of. If you can't treat kids with respect, you should lose your certification. No questions asked. This is pretty solid evidence if you ask me.

fraoch fraoch

Legal or not, the parents had no recourse. They went to the school, they talked to the teachers, the superintendant and it was to no avail. This was their only option. Now there is proof, and no matter what could have been taken out of context, calling a child names and the isn't something that's allowable. Period.

MamaI... MamaItaliano66

This is just one example of a total abuse of power by educators.  (And I use that term ever so loosely.)  Parents need to go to extremes because they are utterly ignored by school officials.  It's troubling when a child's only way to get justice is to involve the media.  This cannot be happening.  Still, I suppose choosing the profession as a teacher is in the end ONLY a paycheck for them after all.

Mommo... Mommototwo

This just terrifies me more about my kids going to school. I never had a problem being bullied by any other students, had plenty of friends, and an active social life. However, I had a teacher that thought it would be funny to "rock my world" because I was naive and very set in my Christian ideals. She told my boyfriend that I was pregnant, then repeated it to every class after. I was fortunate enough that no one believed her, but I was completely distraut that she would try to start a rumor to hurt me.

She received no disciplinary action for what happened.

Candace Elmore

love how you correct when u call her parents..oh sorry her moms boyfriend ..yeah real stupid to even bother . i think the teachers involved should have gotton a bigger punishment .. no charges were filed pisses me off... they treated her so badly

nonmember avatar IRENE

It doesnt matter if it was wrong for them to have recording...the whole world knows abt the tape and what was said by the teachers. I'm sure the teachers are mad but they should have been doin their jobs! If it was me and my kids, I'd be in jail for sure! Every teacher out there is a nicer person today i'm sure!!!!

Linda Ellis

I have a son with Aspergers who was being bullied and one of the teachers was letting it happen. I urged him to use his phone video covertly but he was too clumsy and they caught him and HE got in trouble.  

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