Bullying: What Can Parents Do to Stop It?
Bullying and child violence have become quite common in nearly every school, both in the United States and internationally. Research says that 23% of 9th graders have carried a weapon to school recently, and according to the US Justice Department, one out of three kids will be offered or sold drugs at school. In addition, one out of four kids is bullied either mentally or physically every single day of their lives. Would you know what to do if your child was being bullied at school? The following information and resources will help provide much needed answers.
What Parents Can Do to Stop Bullying?
Give the school a reasonable amount of time to work out minor problems to your child's satisfaction and your satisfaction as a parent, (no more than 3 days).
In cases of a major harassment situation such as a physical or sexual assault, call the police immediately. These type of serious offenses must be handled by the police and entered on the abuser or perpetrator's police record or Juvenile Record. School Administrators can take some action's against the perpetrator(s) but they are not police officers.
Document everything! Tape record statements, type them up and have witnesses sign the statements. Take pictures of injuries, places (buildings), people, etc.
- First, we cannot say enough about documentation. Getting the dates, times, locations, and names of not only the bullying incidents, but also whom you talked within the school system is very important. Write down any information that you feel will be important to reference later, especially any comments made by the principal, superintendent, teachers, etc.
- Second, do your homework. Obtain copies of your State, school district, and your child's school policies regarding bullying, harassment, and your child's right to a safe learning environment. Judging from the violent acts that you have written about, the school and the district are failing to follow established policies. BE PERSISTENT!
- Third, don't wait to do something. Act quickly at the first sign of trouble. Don't settle for "we'll look into it" answers. We trusted the system to fix the problem and it failed our daughter and us miserably.
Write a letter to the Principal of the school. Write a letter to the Principal after each incident of harassment.
Write letters to School Board Members. Write letters to Board members separately and after each incident of harassment.
Write a letter to the Superintendent. Write a letter to the Superintendent after each incident of harassment.
Go to School Board meetings and speak out. It's not just your child that you are thinking about, but all the other children who are harassed and have parents who won't, or don't know how, to speak for them.
Write multiple letters to your State Representatives (The Education Committee). Tell them what is happening in your school and how your Administrators are handling your child's case. Ask them to support State laws to protect kids who are whistle blowers and stronger laws to punish bullies and perpetrators of harassment. Write a letter to each member of the Committee separately and after each incident of harassment. (See the BullyPolice.org website to see if your laws, policies or codes are listed.)
Write a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper. Do not embarrass your child with details, but write instead about your schools lack of response for harassed students in general.
Call a lawyer. If you have not been satisfied with the response you have received from School Administrators within a reasonable period of time, then hire an Attorney. If this is a case of a major harassment situation, such as a physical or sexual assault, call an Attorney within 24 hours. DO NOT let your school become your attorney!!!
- Fourth, don't be afraid to take legal action if necessary. There are assault laws that pertain to juvenile offenders and the incidents you have written about are physical assaults. In our situation, we had a bomb placed in our mailbox that detonated. Don't wait. Tell the legal authorities right away. Chances are good that this will not be the first time the offending child's name has crossed their desks. With the proof you have collected, especially when there has been physical violence, obtain a restraining order.
- Fifth, don't be afraid to tell your story. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the press, influential people in your community including elected officials like school board members. Also, there is strength in numbers. Try to find out the names of other families within your child's school who are experiencing similar bullying and harassment issues. As a group, you can have even a stronger voice for change and action.
- Sixth, stay united as a family. Remember that you are not alone. There are a good number of us out there experiencing the same thing. Have a game plan in mind including removing your child from the school, home schooling, requesting that the school provide a tutor, etc. These are often hard decisions to make, but they may be the only options available as you work at resolving the problem.
Be strong. Turn your anger and disgust into something positive. You owe it to yourself and your child's academic success and happiness.
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"What Parents Can Do to Stop Bullying?" Copyright © Brenda High & Ken Kuczynski. Reprinted with permission.