Finding out your child has been bullied can leave you concerned and uncertain. Usually you don’t learn that your child has been bullied until it has escalated out of control. Too frequently, a child’s friend is so alarmed by an emotional (and possibly suicidal) social media post that they notify the parent of the child being bullied. Most of the time, parents only learn about bullying when it has gotten to a very bad place.
As a parent, you’re scared and worried about the emotional and physical safety of your child. There is usually a feeling of fear and uncertainty about the future and how your child will get through this.
Some parents are well-versed and have a lot of knowledge and understanding about how to handle bullying. However, many parents have never dealt with this situation before and aren’t sure who to go to and how to address it.
With technology and social media making our world smaller, it can be very hard to sort through who can be of help in addressing bullying. Here are a few things for parents to think about to decide if the school is liable and responsible to address the bullying.
Who is bullying your child?
Although it can be challenging, it is important for you, as the parent, to identify who the bully or bullies are AND whether they attend the same school with your child. Schools are responsible to ensure a child’s safety, if his or her bullies attend the same school. So, the kids bullying your child, who also attend the same school, can be addressed by school personnel. Bullies who do not attend the same school may not be held liable by the school your child attends, which can make it a whole lot harder to address.
Who is liable?
Schools are liable if your child is being bullied by kids who attend the same school. Given this liability, it is important that schools are helpful and effective in helping you and your child navigate through the bullying. Schools need to show that they are doing their due diligence. They must demonstrate that they are working well with you, the parents, to help alleviate the bullying at their school.
It is so important that there is continued open communication and willingness by the school to show that they are making every effort possible to stop the bullying. This may mean some trial and error taking place. The first strategy used may not work. However, if the school is open to finding better solutions, they are acting like a responsible partner.
What can I do if they don’t take responsibility?
If a school does not show a clear and effective responsiveness by proactively addressing the bullying, there are a few actions you can take as a parent. First, you must complete your due diligence with the school, by bringing the bullying to the school’s attention. If you’re unsure how to initially address bullying, hop over to my whole blog on how to talk to the school, here.
If your initial attempts to get support from the school fail, bring the bullying and the school’s lack of responsiveness to the superintendent of the school. If this does not work and there is no action or change, it may be time to consult with an attorney.
Education attorneys (especially those specializing in Special Education) have a clear understanding of school law and the rules that apply to your specific situation. They can have a larger impact by addressing the legal aspects of how schools address bullying. For many, this is a last resort, but can be the most effective and necessary next step to get your child the support he or she needs. It is so important that your child feel emotionally and physically safe going to their school.
For more advice, please feel free to contact Danielle Matthew at the Empowerment Space at (818) 267-4282. You can also learn more about the Empowerment Space program at www.empowerment.space.