When working with children it is expected that the parents stay well informed. This goes for all sorts of school work, activities, and other services.
But if a student you were working with confided something harmless but personal to you, would you break that trust?
What if parents wanted you to hand over their diary entries?
One tutor found themselves in a moral dilemma when asked to breech their students trust. After their choice led to social media commentary they were left questioning their actions.
Going by the screen name ligamentary they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subreddit and asked:
“AITA for refusing to give my student’s parents a copy of her diary?“
The OP, or Original Poster, went into detail about their tutoring predicament:
“I work as a tutor and one of my students, 11 years old, needs work in English. A lot of our relationship is based on trust, especially when a student is struggling, to get them to speak up with questions when something doesn’t make sense and communicate transparently with us.”
“One of the exercises I have students do to work on writing in a low stress way is to keep a diary—a page a day of their thoughts, feelings, really anything they want. This isn’t an assignment to be graded, but she does occasionally work on it during our session time as a warm up.”
“She lets me read a page or two sometimes, at her discretion, and it’s some very candid personal thoughts of hers. Nothing serious in the grand scheme, but serious to an eleven year old, and private at any age.”
“Things about friend drama, upsets within the family, hopes and dreams, that sort of thing. At the end of a recent tutoring session her parents asked for a review of the work her daughter had been doing.”
“Perfectly standard request. I put together all the exercises I had saved and brought them the following session to discuss any questions they had out of earshot of their daughter.”
“They said they’d reviewed the material and it looked fine but they were aware their daughter was working on some kind of journaling project with me and wanted to examine that as well.”
”I immediately felt uncomfortable doing that without their daughter knowing, but didn’t want to make a big issue, so just said that wasn’t really as reflective of her academic progress as the exercises and tests we’d done.They said they understood but they wanted to see it anyways because it was an academic project done on their paid time.”
“Because it was rather personal subject material that I had introduced to my student as being just for her, only to share if she felt like it, I really felt uncomfortable sharing the pages I had with her parents without her go ahead.”
“So I told her parents their daughter has the only complete copies so if they want it they’ll have to ask her and get it from her. They weren’t happy about that and told me I should get them from her because it’s my job to manage assignments as the instructor and anything their child writes is theirs to read.”
”I was pretty much backed into a corner at this point so I told them I didn’t agree and the meeting ended. Later that day I got an email asking me not to return.”
”The parents posted a factual accounting of what happened on our town Facebook page for business reviews. It embellished a few details but with the core facts in fact, warning parents against my services and essentially calling me the *sshole of the situation.”