Some parents blame abused teacher for incident

By Thanh Hang   December 8, 2023 | 04:22 pm PT
Some parents blame abused teacher for incident
The gates of the Van Phu Middle School in Tuyen Quang Province in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Hang
Parents have said that while they don't excuse their children's behavior, the teacher who was assaulted by a mob of students in northern Vietnam also played a role in the matter.

Their comments came following videos that went online earlier this week showing a music teacher at Van Phu Middle School in Tuyen Quang Province being locked in a classroom and cornered by a mob of physically and verbally abusive children.

Hang, 38, the music teacher, said she had "no unresolved problems with the students."

She said that during her 7th grade music class on Nov. 29, the students did not abide by the school code and neglected their responsibilities.

She said the students walked around the classroom, played music on the TV, and danced even after class had begun. Hang told them to stop, but they didn’t, so she unplugged the TV. A student then plugged it in again, and the group continued to dance around.

"In short, the students rebelled and did not study," Hang said, adding that the belligerent students then surrounded her at the end of class.

"They cornered me at the teacher’s desk, they swung around hats and clothes, and attempted to cover me with them. Some used rulers... and threatened me," she said.

Hang then went to a 6th grade class to teach. When the class ended, some students from the 7th grade class in question came to the 6th grade class and stuffed trash into Hang’s bag. When she walked to the classroom door, the students threw shoes and slippers at her.

"I felt stunned so I fainted," Hang said.

In video footage taken by students, she can be seen holding her shoes and chasing after the students.

Hang said that after she woke up, she told the students to back off but they did not listen. Some "provoked" her, so she held her shoes in order to threaten them, not to actually hit anyone.

"Since the end of the second semester last year, when some of them were in 6th grade, they already had signs of not respecting teachers. They were already not studying, they were rebelling and throwing shoes in my class, and now it’s been happening for the past two months," Hang said, adding that she had reported the matter to the principal multiple times, but the problem had not been resolved.

Huong, the mother of one of the 7th grade class boys, who could be seen hitting Hang with a metal chair in a video clip, said she does not condone her son’s action as he was being disrespectful. Huong said she and her family are willing to accept any method of discipline, including expulsion. But she also said that things need to be looked at from both sides.

"Why would the students have such an attitude towards their teacher?"

Huong said that before the incident happened, her son did not have any conflict with Hang. But when the teacher swung her shoes around and chased after the students, her son was hit twice in the back, and once in the hand.

"The teacher hit him first, that’s why he retaliated," Huong said, adding that she had taken her son to a medical station in Van Phu Commune for a check-up on Nov. 29. The result was "injuries to soft tissue on the left hand and on the shoulders."

Huong said she had filed a complaint about the matter to the school’s principal, as well as the Van Phu Commune chairperson and police forces. Huong said she was "upset" that the school did not respond after the matter.

"In my mind, Hang needs to be transferred out of the school. If not, there will be many more children impacted in the future," she said.

Several other families had also filed complaints about Hang’s behavior and conduct in October. Principal Nguyen Duy Sang confirmed that he had received complaints from both parents, and that the school has installed cameras inside all classrooms.

Sang said Hang’s capabilities were "adequate."

He said he was not at the school when the incident took place Nov. 29.

"At the end of the class, when I saw Hang come to the room, she said she was fine and she left in good health. The next day, I did not see her come to class, so I called and she said she was sick, requesting a day off. In the afternoon the same day, she filed a document to report what happened," Sang said.

Sang has been suspended from his position for 15 days, starting Dec. 7, for an investigation into the matter.

Before the incident, Hang had previously been disciplined and asked to switch schools due to "violating teacher ethics," according to a report sent by the school to the provincial People’s Committee.

In a document sent to the Government Office and the Ministry of Education and Training on Thursday, the Tuyen Quang People’s Committee said it had received preliminary reports on the matter from the school and other relevant authorities.

One report noted that inappropriate behaviors and statements exhibited by Hang had already been recorded previously in her career.

"The Van Phu Middle School had requested to transfer the teacher to a different facility, as she is not trusted by the students and cannot manage them," the report said, citing a school statement that also said Hang had "violated others’ dignity and reputation," causing "distress among students and parents."

On Nov. 21, Hang was disciplined for "violations of teacher ethics, violating students’ dignity, and having behaviors and statements not befitting of a teacher."

Tuyen Quang authorities have requested that all information be verified in the case. They also asked that both Hand and the students be disciplined appropriately.

While ordering the provincial People’s Committee to report back on the matter before Dec. 29, the Ministry of Education and Training called the incident of students abusing their teacher "an act of violence and a serious moral violation."

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