Vaccine Bullies: A Mom Takes on Her Daughter’s Teacher

Sometimes as parents  who choose not to vaccinate or to vaccinate selectively, our children are faced with teachers or other people in authority who have strong beliefs that are in direct opposition to our own. Often that is not a problem, but sometimes the teacher behaves in such a way that the parent needs to address it. Striking the right note can be a very difficult task for a parent. Today’s blog is a letter that a mother sent to her child’s teacher when the teacher overstepped her authority. We thought this mother handled it so beautifully, we wanted others to be inspired by her example. The names have been changed to protect their privacy. This was sent to the teacher and copied to six administrators.

Dear Mrs.______________,

I delayed sending this email, as I needed to take time to seriously consider how to approach you. I believe incidents my daughter shared with me this past week warrant my involvement.

My daughter Bethany told me about an interaction between you and her on December 2, 2015, where the topic of vaccination came up. Bethany said there were two other students present at that time. She told me that you shared your opinion that all students should get a flu shot, and Bethany replied by telling you that her family has concerns about the safety of vaccines. She told me that she spoke to you about her younger brother specifically and our belief that vaccines played a role in his abnormal neurological development, his developmental regression and subsequent autoimmune disease. Bethany told me your reply was that he was born with autism, and after having taught for as many years as you have, you know this to be true. Bethany told me she shared with you that she remembers her brother’s early years, when he did not have autism, and you replied by calling her a liar. I believe it is worth noting that you have never met her brother, who you stated was born with autism. [Editor’s note: many children were not “born with it.” The evidence is all around, but for a good introduction see the Hear This Well website.]

Bethany told me that the following day, there were several students absent from class. She said that you made a statement to the class that everyone should just get their flu shot. And then, reportedly, you added something to the effect of “Except for Bethany, because she does not like them.”

no-flu-shot1My knee-jerk response would have been to inform you that there are no less than five doctors (pediatrician, immunologist, audiologist, neurologist, and internal medicine) who share the professional opinion that my son suffered a vaccine injury which led to his regression into autism and severe, lasting, multi-systemic disease. The actual term used is iatrogenic illness — caused by a medical treatment. I would have also been inclined to encourage you to read a flu shot package insert, available at any location which administers this product, before recommending a class of students receive that product. I would have also reminded you of the fact that to date, in Illinois, [flu] vaccination is a recommendation, not a requirement, for attendance in public school.

Instead, I will focus on what reportedly occurred between you and my daughter. In my opinion, you behaved in an intimidating and bullying manner on December 2, 2015. Also in my opinion, you attempted to publicly humiliate my daughter on December 3, 2015, which also qualifies to me as bullying. I am shocked and disappointed that an educator would behave in such a manner. What Bethany shared with you about her brother is both deeply personal and tragic.

I was frankly surprised that Bethany chose to open up in such a way about the truth of what happened to her brother. She is well aware of the controversy and politics around the topic of vaccination. She took a tremendous chance in being open and honest with you. I have to believe that she will be quite hesitant to share anything so personal with school staff in the future. The shame in this is that, up until now, my children have held school district staff in very high regard.

stop bullyingIt is my expectation that, moving forward, should you have any further comments to make about my family or opinions about our medical decisions, such comments will be made to me directly, rather than one of my children. I also expect that you will refrain from bringing this topic up to my daughter unless I am physically present. For the remainder of the time Bethany is a student of yours, I ask that you will focus only on the content of your class and her performance therein.

If you, or any other administrator copied here would like to discuss this issue with me, I would be willing to arrange a meeting convenient to my work and personal schedule.

Thank you,
Jennifer Miller

Ms. Miller received two emails in response:

First, from the principal, thanking her for her Parental Concern letter, and letting her know a meeting would be scheduled later that day or the next with him, the assistant principal, the department chair and the teacher. He said he would touch base after they met.

Second, from the teacher, apologizing and saying it was not her intention to make Ms. Miller’s daughter uncomfortable, a statement that she will be more sensitive regarding this topic, and her assurance she will not bring it up in class.

Ms. Miller says she is okay with where things stand right now. If nothing else, she gave the teacher pause. And her reputation as “One of Those Parents” has been elevated a bit.

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16 Responses to Vaccine Bullies: A Mom Takes on Her Daughter’s Teacher

  1. A Sane Person says:

    Vaccinate your children you idots

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      ^ This sort of thing is the sort of thing that one can safely completely ignore as it is obviously someone who hasn’t given the slightest actual thought to the subject and has nothing whatever to bring to the discussion.

      Thank you “Sane” for being such a very clear example of the lowest common denominator of vaccine bully. It’s very helpful.

    • Christian Jackson says:

      What’s an idot? A small fraction of a lower-case letter of the alphabet? If you’re going to be vulgar and insult people, please proofread before you post, or it might make you look more foolish yourself.

  2. Pg says:

    Well done, and hats off for not over escalating the situation. Teachers who bully any student for any reason should be fired and shamed.

  3. Betty says:

    I teach in an elementary school in Texas & am the sponsor of our morning announcement news crew, one of my favorite jobs. In my district (& perhaps in all of Texas), 4th-12th graders may sign up to speak on our announcements, which are broadcast live, about whatever these students want to say. I never tell these students what to say–they have total freedom of speech. My students don’t quite realize the freedom & power they’ve been given, but I do. I wish I could encourage them to speak about important issues that affect them, such as vaccinations, but I never will in that situation. However, I do let my 500+ students know when they’re in my class that they should know what they believe, & why they believe it & be prepared to explain & defend their beliefs in a passionate, but unemotional tone. One belief I have is the responsibility to help my students think creatively & critically so they don’t become members of the masses of people who accept & believe what they are told to–without question. I’m glad this mother took time to let her daughter’s teacher know that the teacher crossed a line that wasn’t acceptable. Parents, you have every right to hold us teachers & administrators accountable for what we say to your children while they’re in our care at school. And be sure to remind us, if necessary, that our only reason for being at school with your children is to prepare them for success in school & in life, not to influence them to see & believe things the way we teachers do. I know one of the hardest things you have to do as parents is to entrust your children every school day to teachers & school systems whose ways are not your ways. Most of us do our very best to honor your trust.

  4. I do agree that the letter is well written, but I do not think it is strong enough. Why does anyone put up with their children being treated this way. I would not leave my child with that teacher ever again. The teacher should be disciplined and possibly fired. Bullying and shaming their students and then to make it worse, it was done in front of other students is unacceptable. That kind of behavior should not be tolerated by anyone.

  5. The_TRUTH says:

    Excellent! Love the way you maintained your cool and composure. I am not sure I would have been able to contain mine.

  6. ang says:

    A teacher here, once told a girl with a certain disability, that it was because her mother didnt take enough folic acid when she was pregnant with her. (Said in front of the class). The theme at the time was lack of folic acid causes this and that. Yeah the girls mother took her to task. You did well, teachers say silly things, and until you tell them how wrong they are, they continue to say stupid things, well done.

  7. Sheridan Kay says:

    What an awesome, well thought out response to an obviously opinionated educator. Shame on her for her bullying. I applaud your thoughtful and obviously highly educated points. Thank you for sharing this – I am so fortunate to live in a country that has not mandated vaccinations (yet) but I assume we are heading down that path. I have 2 young girls who are not vaccinated and not medicated in any way. I always like to be well-read in preparation for any conflict that may arise regarding their vaccination status. So far so good.
    Please pass on pats on the back to your courageous daughter who answered honestly and held her ground. What a star!
    Love your pro-active, carefully considered letter.
    Well done.

  8. Kate says:

    Nicely written!

  9. Jan says:

    An excellent example for other parents to follow! Thanks to this mom for carefully considered words!!

  10. Jim West says:

    I applaud you. Given the atmosphere present generation, you seem to have done the right thing.

    According to my 60’s mindset, there are a few more opportunities. Your child might educate the teacher and the class. She might be encouraged to engage the teacher further, succinctly practicing challenges at home. Shown humorous rebuttals. Each jab by the teacher could be returned in a friendly way, gracefully and knowledgeably. You don’t want the teacher to lose face in front of her class. There is an opportunity to teach the class as well as the teacher.

    If none of the above, then your daughter could raise her hand and ask for permission to read the Flulaval vaccine insert paper to the class or just to the teacher. She could read the toxic ingredients of flu vaccines. She could evaluate, with discussions with her parents and others, if the political weather would allow her to hand out copies of such official material to class and teacher without getting into too much trouble.

  11. terrance says:

    I am glad you stood up to her. We had an incident at school as well. Teacher brought it up at the parent teacher meeting stating “I have spoken to “my son” about keeping his opinions about vaccines to himself, so he does not hurt the children whose parents have chosen vaccines for their health. He apparently spoke to her after a political discussion (only one kid in the room when he said it), about a party that he thought would bring in mandatory vaccines ( he’s 9 and had it all muddled,but she could likely figure out it was negative). I did not know what he had said, as he takes after my activist side, and I thought he had been loudly telling all the kids vaccines were bad. I immediately told him that I had spoken to him before about not telling other kids what is good for their health (or something like that, as I was embarrassed and unsure what he had said). I was so angry, I had done this without asking him, and in front of her. I toyed with sending a letter to her and the principal, explaining, and letting everyone know we do have freedom of speech. However with another child entering school with severe peanut and nut allergies, and attempting to have policy changed re: nuts, I thought I would not chance the possibility of being tagged “that parent” and the meme, about bringing infections diseases, peanut butter to school! etc. It is ok for them to peddle their get a vaccine information to my child, and chance hurting his feelings, but not ok for him to say ANYTHING at all. Sad world we live in. The majority rules!

    • marcia says:

      Sweet loving parent (Terrance) of a son who cares enough to speak up . The comment the majority rules could be us if we allow ourselves and our children to speak our valuable opinions(truth). When we keep quiet and teach our children to keep quiet, this is when the opportunists step in and take over. Hence the world at hand. Kuddos to you for teaching your child right even if he wasn’t allowed to further his beliefs openly.

  12. Lesley Earl says:

    well done I wish more parents could be as clear and direct .

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