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Teachers Reveal The Biggest Red Flags They've Seen In Students

Teachers Reveal The Biggest Red Flags They've Seen In Students

Teachers. Often they are stand-ins for parents, and what they have to handle can be overwhelming. Some of these stories are jarring - like first graders knowing what meth smells like, or faking autism for years on end.

LultimaNotte asked educators: Teachers of Reddit, what is the biggest holy-sh*t-red-flag of any kind you've seen from a student? [NSFW]

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

This is messed up.

I teach in an area that has been very, very affected by the opioid epidemic. I taught a student who was well-known to be addicted to heroin. He was also the person who gave his mother her first dose of the drug. His mother died of an overdose. The last time I saw him he had self-tattooed on his arm "I killed my mom" in huge letters.


Not cute, not funny.

I had a student last week tell me to hold out my hand because he had a surprise for me. I did it out of curiosity and he placed a 9mm round in my hand. This is two months after I had a student tell everyone via SnapChat he was gonna shoot me and another teacher up. I just shook my head and called administration to deal with that BS.


Imagine being so dark and troubled so young.


I had a student earlier this year who came to me because he was "kicked out" of his last school (according to him). He was covered in tattoos as a freshman in high school. On the second day of having him in my class, I looked up from my desk while students were supposed to be taking a test to see him miming cutting off my head with something shiny. When I went back to see what it was and he laughed and hid it, swearing he had nothing. I looked up to see him doing it again. Same thing happened... I let it go.

After he left the room, I found the pen he had been writing with under his desk with two small incisions in the cap. I immediately reported it to admin.

He was moved to another teacher a few days later for an unrelated scheduling issue. He threatened to kill her. He was moved to another teacher because of this. In the third teacher's class, he drew pictures of rifles all over his essays.

So. Many. Red. Flags. He was finally sent to the alternative school a few months back. But he'll likely be back.

EDIT: To clarify, the incisions on the pen indicated that he was using some kind of sharp object (a thumbtack, I suspect) to mime cutting my head off. And yes, I/we have documented and reported these things every step of the way.


This is both impressive and unnerving.

It happened a few years ago, when I was an intern at a big school in my town. My job was simple: follow the teacher wherever she went to and complete 100 hours of unpaid work, that's it. Sh*tty, but I had to do that in order to get my diploma.

So, there was this boy, around 14, who was always alongside his personal therapist. I don't usually ask questions, but since that same teacher was my high school teacher years ago, I felt comfortable in asking her what was wrong with him. She said he had autism, and sometimes he would get aggressive towards his classmates, so his therapist had to be with him at all times while he was at school to help calm him down if something or someone triggers him.

Days later I went to the teacher's room to ask for signatures for my internship documents. Everyone is helpful and starts signing until the coordinator walks in and asks for our attention.

"Guys, I have some news to tell you all about [boy]. You'd better sit down. You too, SpiritSong. You gotta listen to this," she said.

Turns out the kid had been pretending to be autistic for years. He looked up on the internet for the "symptoms" of autism and just started using his acting skills to fool even a psychologist and his whole family. His therapist had empty eyes, his mother looked like her son died in front of her. I don't know the details, but it seems a different psychologist did something to him and caught him off guard, discovering his ruse.

And people have the gall to say that a teacher's life has no thrill. I've been in the teaching career for only about 7 years and I've already had this and some other similar kinds of stuff happening, I can't wait for what the future holds for me!


No warning sign here, nope.

Had them producing a book report with a few sentences and some pictures. Kid had an abridged version of some Penguin classic, and everything was good barring one question:

'What did you enjoy most about this story?'

"He gets mad and kills his family." Followed by a scrawling image of mutilation.

Completely unrelated to the story and just slipped in there with some good work.


And it's said kids can't be sociopaths...


When I first began teaching, we had a student who seemed to get a lot of satisfaction out of manipulating or hurting others. Her behavior escalated, leading to a brief hospital stint after killing her puppy. When she returned to school, she bragged gleefully about it and shortly thereafter began writing death threats in blood on the walls of bathroom stalls. As much as I hate to say it, she's one I wouldn't be surprised to see in the news in a few years.


*Steps away slowly...*

A (university) freshman tried to add my class late, but all the slots allotted by admin had been filled. He approached me after the first day of class and asked to be added anyway. Very flat affect. No emotion at all.

I told him that I couldn't add him, and he replied, "If you don't add me, I'll follow you everywhere. Even to the bathroom."


I'm not a huge guy, but I easily doubled his body weight. Not the situation to try to make a threat, I'd say.

I was nonplussed for a moment, so I asked him to repeat what he'd just said. And he did. Word for word. He did. I could tell this guy was a nut case, and in hindsight I probably should have reported the incident. Instead, I just kind of laughed it off and walked away.

Never saw him again, to my knowledge. Kinda doubt that he made a smooth transition into adulthood, tho.


Stalls are superior anyway.

I may have set off a red flag for teachers when I was in 3rd grade.

I would always pull my pants all the way down to my ankles when I peed in the urinal, and obviously, would constantly get made fun of for it.

Well, it got very tiring and hurtful so one day when I dropped my drawers to pee, the boy that walked up in the urinal beside me (who pees side by side anyway?) popped his mouth off and I just non-chalantly pivoted and piss all up and down his leg.

The principal called my mom, and I was tactfully talked to at home about how it's good to stand up for yourself but that wasn't an appropriate reaction. Then my dad took over and explained how I really needed to not get basically butt naked to pee standing up at a urinal.


Things six-year-olds shouldn't say.


A student walked in the classroom and said "it smells like crystal meth in here."

I teach six-year-olds.


Old English. 

Student skipped the week or two that he had pool time at PE. Counseled his parents at conferences he was exhibiting some gang tendencies (oddly so were the parents). Found out later that year he skipped pool PE class because he had his last name tattooed across his back in old English. This was a 14 year old. UpDownABAB

The Deepest Cut. 

This year I had a female student (middle school) who had cut her arm so many times you couldn't really see the skin, just a bunch of bloody, scabby cuts. She hid it well at school as it was winter and the students were all wearing sweaters. We only found out because one of her friends started crying and told me I needed to talk to her immediately. ZeeFishy

Call the Team.


There was a kid I knew in second grade he was wild. When we were in the same class together, the teacher would regularly have to call the "assistance team" (a group of teachers that would restrain unruly kids and were trained on how to do so) he would throw desks, chairs, scissors once if remember correctly.

The following year (we weren't in the same classroom but it was a small school so you'd still hear about things) he tripped a very pregnant teacher causing her to go into labor no idea how he didn't get expelled for that but the final straw was when he found a rusty pocket knife on the playground during recess and stabbed the student sitting next to him in the stomach with it for no reason. Still wonder what happened to him. Oh oh and he sucked his thumb regularly.jimshwarts

Problem Child. 

College professor. Guy just a little bit older than me wrote a paper in which he shared a fantasy about beating the crap out of a younger female therapist for not listening to him about his problems. He was constantly distracting in class, cheated in every way imaginable, and just struck me as off. I repeatedly put in student of concern notices about him, because I really thought something was going to go wrong. Shortly after the class ended he took his newborn kid and ran away to a different state. :/ phoenix-corn

First Grade Crazy. 

My cousin (currently in 1st grade) had a girl in his class throw a computer tower in their classroom and slapped and punched the teacher as she tired to gain control.

To my knowledge, nothing ever happen to the girl because the teacher and the girl's mother are good friends. They don't want to ruin her time at school by reporting the incident. smaltowngrl

I See You Kid. 

A buddy of mine teaches the special needs class in a high school. For him it was the kid who he'd been told liked to throw things. That wasn't entirely uncommon for his class, but when he noticed the kid was wearing adult diapers, he went straight to the office to review the kid's file. His "red flag" sense was right, the kid liked to throw poop.

My buddy went to OHAS and has managed to keep the kid out of his class. That was last week. This week he's been told that the school is still trying to get the kid put in his class anyway. (they make money for taking these kids). He's fighting it, but lord know which way it will land. Never_Been_Missed

Let's Call Dad.


I was in charge of an after school program for Jr. High and High school students (13-18 years old). One time I was waiting for a 13 year old girl to get picked up with her friend, and this is the conversation I hear from across the room while they were messing with the whiteboard.

Girl 1: draws swastika

Girl 2: "You can't do that, that's bad."

Girl 1: "Why?"

Girl 2: "I don't know, I just know bad."

Girl 1: " It's OK, my dad has it tattooed on his chest."

Me: 👀

Edit 1: I was working in a semi-rural part of the US, and dad was a white guy who lived in a trailer park. I'm not one for stereotypes but I'm pretty sure the guy wasn't Hindu. Or Buddhist. But I appreciate this sub's ability to always look for a silver lining. sweeetkiwi

Call CPS!!

There's a kid in this preschool class, aged 5, that says the most off the wall stuff.

So far this school year, she has said that her dad is going to come to the school and kill kids and their families, that she has a doll that will come to this other little girl's house and cut her heart out, eat it and cut her legs off, and finally that her dad shoots kittens.

At this point, I'm thinking of calling CPS or at least pushing the issue with the school district because there is no reasonable explanation as to why a 5 year old would be saying these disturbing things. HeyBlenderhead