Social Factors of Vulnerability

Within a particular school setting, parents and caregivers become ever more vulnerable to exclusion and inequity within that system the more they:
  • lack information;
  • lack skills and power and are dependant upon the staff and administration to take action and make decisions;
  • are isolated from their peers and from community resources.
School staff members will need to assess the power dynamics at play in any given situation. We may need to be flexible in our approach, as we seek to create a collaborative partnership. We can shift our approach from one in which we seek to share power, to one in which we seek to challenge someone’s inappropriate use of power and assert our own right to respect.

Parents and caregivers always have the right to take action to ensure that their children’s rights are respected. And – it is important to recognize that in all interactions, no matter what the power dynamics at play, all players belong and have the right to be treated with full respect and retain their personal power.

Scenario The last bell has rung, and you are in your classroom marking homework. One of your student’s parents walks quickly into your classroom and stands in front of your desk, glaring at you. From things your student has said, you are aware that the parent is a recent newcomer to Canada. You are from a dominant ethnocultural group. As you look up, they yell at you:

“My child is being picked on and you couldn't care less. My child told me you’re not doing anything about it. What kind of a teacher are you? You don’t care about my child!”