When you find out your child has been bullied, you want to take action. But talking to the school can be hard. Even so, it’s important to make sure that, as a parent, you meet with the principal right away. You need to make sure that the bully or bullies are attending the same school as your child, but once you’ve identified that the bullies do attend the same school, you need to schedule a meeting immediately.
What should I consider when scheduling a meeting at the school?
First, make an appointment with the principal as the head of the school (similar to a governing board). It is important that this meeting is scheduled within a day or two of learning about the bullying. Your child has probably been bullied a lot longer than the two or three days you may wait to make an appointment. So, it is important to let the school know the urgency of the meeting. It can also be effective to ask the school counselor or a specific teacher to join the meeting as they also may have additional and helpful information to offer.
How should I handle the meeting with the school?
Once a school meeting has been set, there are a few specific guidelines to make sure your meeting is effective.
- Request to see the policy the school has on bullying. If there is not a specific policy against bullying there may be one on harassment. Once you start looking at the policy on bullying, it is important to ask how the school will use the specific interventions within the policy to effectively stop the bullying of your
- Ask about any Bully Prevention programs that the school is using. It is important to assess whether the school is very invested in a bullying program. Identify is all kids are involved in the bully prevention program and ask how effective the program actually is.
- Map out a specific safety plan with the school for your child. Work with the school to identify how the bullying will be addressed and including what interventions will be used.
- Set another meeting time. It is important to have a follow-up meeting as soon as possible once a few days have gone by and the suggested intervention and strategies are tried. Follow-up after the initial meeting should be within a day or two.
When should my child be involved?
Depending on the age of your child, it may be important, if your child is not present for this initial meeting, to have a follow-up meeting. In that meeting, your child can participate in the discussion, and will know that the problem is being addressed. Your child may be an integral part of the solution and should participate in the discussion when he or she feels comfortable.
Once you’ve identified strategies, implement them and see how it goes. There could be some hit and misses, so it is important that the school continues to work with the family until the most appropriate solutions are identified. Everyone should come back together to identify these additional solutions, when needed.
It is also important for parents to follow-up with the school and make sure continued interventions and actions discussed from previous meetings are being addressed.
What can I realistically expect?
It is so important for you, as the parent, to feel heard and that your child will be safe and respected at their school. Know your rights when you must advocate for your child. The school is liable if appropriate action is not taken with a bully attending the same school. Schools vary so widely on how the respond to bullying, so it is hard to know how cooperative and compliant your school will be. You, as the parent, are most concerned about your child’s safety and well-being, so you will probably need to be the one driving this process. If you need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Do you need help talking to your child’s school about bullying that is occurring? Please contact Danielle Matthew, LMFT of The Empowerment Space.