You leave the school building unexpectedly disgruntled. Everything that occurred in the past thirty minutes has completely crushed your confidence in those entrusted with keeping your child safe.
How could this be? How could the school personnel downplay such a serious issue like bullying?
As you sit a moment in your car, your mind replays the evasive responses you received during this meeting. You had reached out to the school – looking for support, for actions, for solutions – but all you received were excuses and vague lip service. You feel utterly dejected.
It is a regrettable fact that some teachers see bullying simply as a normal part of child behavior. More sympathetic teachers, though, consider aggressive behavior to be something completely unacceptable and view bullying as a form of abuse. And rightly so.
Any caring parent would hope to get a response like the latter when approaching their child’s school with their concerns. But what if you don’t? What can you possibly do when the school downplays the bullying your child has been subjected to?
Steps Parents Can Take When Schools Downplay Bullying
To be sure, there are various actual reasons why some school personnel might downplay a parent’s report of their child being bullied. They range from lack of awareness through teachers being overworked to school personnel feeling overwhelmed and helpless to deal with the problem.
Nonetheless, the problem of bullying is serious and a parent needs to accept the challenge of pursuing a solution for their child’s sake. Their strategy needs to focus on a realistic approach to get the school personnel’s full attention on the matter.
1. Reach Out
One of the best strategies is talking about the bullying with others. How can you implement this?
- Talk to School Personnel – Make contact with the school and discuss the problem, moving up according to a chain of command – the teacher, the guidance counselor, the school’s social worker, the principal, and even the school board or superintendent – until the issue is properly addressed. Call ahead when making appointments and remain calm and level-headed when talking about the situation.
- Talk to Other Parents – There might be strength in numbers if your child is not the only one being bullied. Don’t discredit the school, but reach out to everyone that could be in a position to address the matter.
- Talk Online – There are blogging communities that can be a great support and provide guidance from other parents who have dealt with their children being bullied. Their practical advice could be invaluable.
2. Keep Records
Instead of relying on your memory for details, keep written records to make sure information isn’t distorted and that everybody involved stays organized and informed.
- Document the Bullying – Write down your child’s account of each incident of bullying with as many details as possible.
- Document Your Interactions with the School – Write down who you talked to and what was talked about. For meetings with school personnel, write down what your goals are for the discussion and document what decisions and resolutions were made during the meeting.
- Document Agreements – Put any agreements in writing and ask all parties to sign the document.
3. Be Persistent
A parent’s determination and consistency in standing up for their child can be an enormous moral boost for the victimized child.
Your persistence at finding a solution for their problem will let your children know that you value them and that their safety is worth your time and effort. That fact alone can help to raise their low self-esteem. There’s nothing more upbuilding for children than knowing their parents are on their side, showing serious concern for their well-being.