Bullying is never OK.
Advocacy is the key.
As we know the role of the school is to provide an appropriate education for all its pupils. A stable, secure learning environment is an essential requirement to achieve this goal. Bullying behavior, by its very nature, undermines and dilutes the quality of education and research shows that bullying can have short and long-term effects on the physical and mental well-being of pupils, on engagement with school, on self-confidence and on the ability to pursue ambitions and interests. As a mental health professional, mother, and educator I urge you to take action. I hope this page will help you as an advocate for your child.
- More than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).
- Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression (Center for Disease Control, 2015).
- Students who engage in bullying behavior are at increased risk for academic problems, substance use, and violent behavior later in adolescence and adulthood (Center for Disease Control, 2015).
- Students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems than students who only bully or are only bullied (Center for Disease Control, 2015).
- Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches (Gini & Pozzoli, 2013).
- Youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment (Perren, Ettakal, & Ladd, 2013; Shelley & Craig, 2010).
Some school offer mediation for student disputes, peer mediation is a wonderful resource but should NOT be used in cases of bullying. Bully implies a power differential therefore by putting together the student committing the bullying behavior with the student on the receiving end it is not appropriate or emotionally healthy. Make sure you ask for the school handbook and policies on handling bullying. Ask for a formal investigation.
Moving the bullied child may be the best option however most likely it is not. It could move the target to another child and not 'solve' the issue and actually strengthen the power differential that already exsists showing other students 'if you 'tell' you get moved.' It is very disruptive to a child to move classes, it is a huge social change and adjustment. We must be careful what we agree to, as we know bullying has ties to depression, low self esteem already now we add switching classes...
Find out the specific laws for our state below:
What can you do to stop bullying?
If you or someone you know is being bullied check out this link to information, videos, games and more.
*Parents this is a great educational resource!
Here is a basic protocol if you find that your child has been bullied:
· Find out pertinent and detailed information about what the bullies are doing, dates, times, places, actions, etc. Document everything.
· Find out any threats that have been made toward your child, and if it pertains to outside of school; contact the police.
·Contact the school during hours of operation and make an appointment with the principal for a face to face meeting.
·Outline the details, not in an angry rant, but as if you were telling a friend what occurred.
·Obtain a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy to determine if the bully violated a school policy. Ask for a formal investigation.
· When you meet with the school principal, tell your child’s story and ask for help.
· Relate the facts and leave your emotions out of it. If you feel the bully has violated the school’s anti-bullying policy, bring this up calmly into the conversation.
· Ask what you can do together to stop the bullying. Write down everything he said and agreed to do, because you are going to hold him accountable for it.
· Send a thank-you letter to the principal, recapping what he or she said and agreed to do along with the Bullying Prevention Bill Of Rights For Parents and Students (at the bottom of this page) which you can copy and paste onto your own letterhead. This will put the principal on notice and on the alert that you are watching for a resolution to the problem.
· Follow up with your child to see if the bullying stops, and follow up with the principal.
· If the harassment continues, document it and file a Notice of Harassment (contact me for this form). You may need to move up the chain of command, contacting the superintendent of schools, board of education, or possibly even state and federal authorities.
·If your child has been threatened contact law enforcement immediately.
· If your child has been cyberbullied, check the school’s anti-bullying policy as well as your state anti-bullying legislation to see if cyberbulling is covered under the aegis of the school. If it is, report that to the school as well. Absolutely report it to the police, as well as the ISP provider, the social media web site, wherever it is taking place.
What if it doesn't stop?
· If the bullying does not stop you should file charges with the school board and law enforcement if appropriate.
Please note that most schools only file one simple charge on the student(s) so, your best bet is to file the charges yourself, and let the school know what charges you have filed to keep track of.
Why is it good to file charges?
This is a track record for the child that follows them into more serious offenses later on. Children often don't think about how this will affect them, or how judges or the legal system review these records.
As a parent, it is important to know that you have to:
· Become the expert on bullying.
· Document everything!!
· Use a recorder at meetings in the schools, and school board meetings.
· Contact a mental health counselor and get your child help.
· Obtain copies of any and all documents from the school on incidents, as the principal is required to make reports.
· File a complaint with the school.
· If you have taken these steps and cannot come to any resolution, contact the US Department of Education who will investigate the matter.
· Be persistent
· You may also wish to contact an educational consultant and an attorney.
Complaints Against Schools
Please contact the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights only if your complaint is serious and/or life threatening and you have exhausted all possibilities with your school and school district.
The OCR National Headquarters is located at:
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661-4544
FAX: 312-730-1576; TDD: 800-877-8339
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
FAX: 202-453-6012; TDD: 800-877-8339