By Samuetta Hill Drew
This is the final article in our bullying series. We have addressed the signs of bullying, different methods to address it with your child and how to identify if your child is the actual bully. We will conclude this important series outlining ways parents can help protect their child at school by working with school officials.
First, remember not to allow your emotions to overwhelm you to the point you want to confront the bully and/or his/her parents. It’s a natural instinct to want to protect your child from harm. Yet, there is a much better approach because this one often escalates and worsens the situation.
Begin by becoming knowledgeable of your state and any local laws against bullying. This includes your school district’s anti-bullying policies. Make sure you have a printed copy of these official documents against bullying and place it in your personal file. These documents will be very important as you develop your plan of action to help protect your child.
The next step is to document the bullying behavior by keeping accurate and up-to-date records. You should keep this information in the same file with the official anti-bullying documents.
Documenting this bullying behavior against your child should include writing down incidents pertaining to when, where, who is committing the bullying act. Write down if there were any witnesses – including their names and contact information.
Make an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss this matter of bullying and share your information. Remember, never give the teacher or anyone your only copy of your information. If the bullying behavior does not stop after your meeting, then go up the chain of command by setting up a meeting with the principal. At this meeting review your documentation and ask for his/her help in solving this problem.
After each of the meetings make sure you send a thank you note recapping the meeting and actions which are to be taken on behalf of protecting your child. Include a copy of the district’s anti-bullying policy and procedures so the teacher and/or principal understand you are a parent who has done their homework on the issue.
Remember to remain calm during your meetings. Raised voices or profanity merely slow down the process and doesn’t resolve anything. Always maintain a calm professional demeanor.
If your child continues to be bullied, then proceed to go up the chain of command further to the principal’s supervisor and then to the superintendent, if the problem persists; each time reviewing your continuous documentation. Again, follow-up with a thank you note and enclose a copy of the anti-bullying policy and state law. If your child is being threatened then you may want to file charges with local law enforcement. Also, if your child is being cyberbullied, you need to address this with school officials and/or law enforcement.
Ultimately, you want to Keep an Eye on Safety as it pertains to your child by using the proper channels in place to resolve this problem. In the meantime, make sure you are addressing your child’s emotional state during this process, reassuring him/her you love them, and this is not their fault. Note — the school should have a counselor or you may want to seek outside counseling if you believe it’s necessary.