Repeated, persistent and aggressive behavior intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person’s body, emotions or self-esteem or reputation.”
- Duhaime.org/legal dictionary
There are Four Main Types of Bullying:
Type One: Physical
- Causing someone to trip
- Holding down another person
Type Two: Verbal
- Name calling
- Making disrespectful comments
Type Three: Cyber / Internet
- Testing a threat
- Making a mean comment
- Sharing a person’s personal words
- Making disrespectful comments on social media
Type Four: Relational
- Leaving people out
- Talking about them in front of them
- Ignoring them
Bullying is third leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds. There is one suicide every 100 minutes. It is the sixth leading cause of death ages 5-14.
A survey conducted within the World Health Organization in 2001 of 15,000 Students in 6th to 10th Grades found the following:
- 30% of students in one semester reported bullying
- Bully (13%)
- Target (11%)
- Both Bully and Target (6%)
- Probability that any one student being involved in bullying, within their lifetime over 12 years of school rises to 70%
- Empathy – listen to your child and ask for feelings (don’t assume how they feel). Show understanding and positive regard.
- Engagement – engage your child in a solution – how does your child think the bullying should be handled? Also, engage the school in the solution – making sure they are providing the support and safety that’s needed.
- Empowerment – empower your child to take action, with your support and back up, when needed.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. However there are some basic guidelines as parents that you may want to follow:
The first is how traumatized has your child been at the school while being bullied? Have you as the parent made attempts to speak with the principal? Have you been able to find any helpful solutions? As the parent, have you asked the principal to see their policy against bullying and reviewed specifically how they will be addressing this with your child?
There are many ways to look at this decision. First, once you have spoken to the principal and feel there is a good plan in place, you can speak with your child to see if they would feel comfortable going back to this school. Also, do they have the skills to help them handle being back in this environment?
If they are open to returning to school, I would encourage and support a clear plan of action with the school that empowers your child to take some action along with you as the parent. You may also want to have your child in private counseling to work on coping skills and self-esteem to handle staying at the school.
If your child feels so traumatized by the bullying that they cannot go back to their home school, I would support the idea of exploring other school options. When a new school has been found, it’s important to speak to the principal right away, make sure to see their policy on anti-bullying, and become informed on any programs they may use in their school to address prevention of bullying. I would also have your child in private counseling to address coping skills to handle any further potential bullying that could happen. Although your child may be at another school, bullying could take place again and you want to make sure your child has skills to handle the situation.
I would also recommend that you check in regularly with your child regarding their peer group and how they are settling into the new school environment. It may also be appropriate to periodically check in with the school to make sure that your child is currently not being bullied. Sometimes children want to handle their own conflicts and do not want parents knowing certain things. It is important to stay in the loop with your child at all times.
If your child refuses to go back to school, you may consider home-schooling. If this is the decision you make, it can be important to work towards re-entry into school. In addition to home-schooling, you may want to add private therapy to help your child develop new skills and techniques to handle their feelings and any conflicts, if situations like this arise again. Under the guidance of a psychotherapist or other professional, you can test the skills learned by having them identify their feelings and talk about them as they think about going back to school. You can slowly increase time at the school and make sure they can handle any feelings that arise being on school grounds.
The idea behind re-entering school is to support your child’s growth and ability to handle the next stages in life. For example, in a job we may not like everyone we work with (or sometimes even our bosses), but we must interact with them. In the world, we learn to cope with people who are not always fair to or thoughtful of us. We do not get to pick and choose the people we work with, just like in a school. It is about learning to cope with people in the most effective way possible.
Please note that these are just a few guidelines to think about. Again there is no right or wrong answer just some guidelines to think about.
How do I approach the school?
Ask to meet with the principal as soon as possible. It is important to ask right away to see the school policy on bullying when you meet. Hopefully, the school has some policy in writing about how they manage problems with bullying. If there is no policy on bullying ask the school how they handle these problems. It is important right away to establish that there needs to be some accountability for the school to address bullying.
Once the school’s policies and responsibilities have been established, it is important for you to discuss your particular concerns. Then, a plan needs to be developed for how the school will support your child around the bullying. It is important to establish a clear plan and a time frame for following up to make sure the plan was successfully implemented.
You may also want to ask specifically about whether there is a bully prevention program in place at the school. This may be helpful to support you and your child who is currently being bullied, if there is a program in place.
How do I deal with the school if there is resistance?
It is important to try and establish a collaborative relationship with the school in any way possible. If there seems to be continuous resistance, it would be important to remind the school of their liability for any issues that may arise if the bullying is not addressed. Schools are liable. That is the bottom line. A school must show accountability and due diligence to handle a bullying problem at their school.
What are my rights as a parent?
Parents have a right for their children to feel safe going to school. They have a right to hold the school accountable so that their child, who spends eight hours a day there, feels safe. Parents have a right to hold the school accountable to address bullying at their school. Parents have a right to make sure that schools are doing everything possible to make their child’s education effective, providing a safe place to learn.