To know whether your child’s school has an adequate bullying prevention policy in place, you must first ensure that you are maintaining a dialogue with your child. No parent should rely on a school to ensure their child is not being bullied. Most children, especially those that are being bullied, don’t like to talk about it. You can start the dialogue by asking some simple questions such as:
- Do you ever see anyone get bullied at school?
- What happens when you see someone getting bullied? (Do other students or adults step in? Does it get reported?)
- What does your school teach you to do when you are bullied or see someone bullied?
- Have you ever been bullied?
The Importance of Parental Involvement
Asking your child questions about bullying at their school can help you assess how active their school is regarding bullying. A school that has a multifaceted and effective bullying program in place will allow your child to respond to these questions… except for the last question, as children generally don’t like to admit when they are being bullied. This is why it is important, as a parent, to remain involved in your child’s day to day life at school by asking questions (i.e. Tell me something good that happened? Tell me something you didn’t like? What was the best part of your day? What was the worst? What was the funniest thing that happened? Etc.)
When to Review the Student Handbook
If your child can tell you about the school’s bullying program than your child’s school likely has a good bullying prevention program. If your child cannot then you should look to your school’s student handbook for its policy regarding bullying. The student handbook should have a policy regarding bullying in place. Most schools also have a code of conduct that addresses proper behavior and defines bullying, which, in turn, assists in the prevention of bullying. Schools that are the most effective at preventing, handling and stopping bullying have a multi-faceted approach that have community wide involvement. If your child cannot discuss the school’s bullying program then your child’s school can be doing more to address bullying. To prevent bullying a school requires the assistance of its teachers and staff as well as its students and parents. Become active in your child’s school and contact your school’s PTO/PTA/PTG and request bullying being placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
If Your Child is Being Bullied…
If your child is being bullied, stay on top of it. Make sure your child’s school is also following up. A “let’s wait and see” approach is never acceptable. If you feel the school is not responding to the needs of your child contact the teacher, the principal, the superintendent and the school board, so your message is heard loud and clear. This also takes the issue out of the hands of the school’s teacher and/or administrator if they are not actively working to protect your child. Contact the PTO/PTA/PTG and other students’ parents to see if they will assist too.
It is never advised to confront the bully directly, as this may cause the bully to retaliate further against your child. It is also never advised to confront the bully’s parent(s) directly either. It is best to go through the school or a neutral party such as a teacher, coach, counselor, administrator, etc. as often bullies do not have good parental oversight and/or involvement at home.
If you and your child are not getting the support you need to prevent or stop bullying at school, contact an education lawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance.