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Stepping In – How to effectively report bullying to the school authorities

There are many excellent resources for teaching kids how to deal with bullies. But in this post, we’ll be addressing something that is often overlooked: How you, as a parent, can help your child if they are being bullied. If you have a mean boss or a passive-aggressive in-law, you’ll know how frightening and anxiety-inducing it is when you’re forced to interact with them. Your child has the same feelings about returning to school after a bullying incident. They know that eventually, they will cross paths with the bullies, no matter the size of the playground. Your child’s first response to being bullied will likely be to avoid or change schools. But this can disrupt her education and social life. The fact is that every school has bullies — changing schools is like applying an ineffective, expensive and laborious band-aid instead of taking practical stitching up the emotional wounds that being bullied has left behind. Many bullying situations require adult intervention to resolve fully. Below you’ll find the steps to take to effectively report the problem and work with the school staff to make your child’s school a more comfortable place for them to attend.

1. Gather information

After talking to your child, but before contacting school personnel, write down your child’s account of the situation. Note the dates and the names of the kids involved. Try to view the situation objectively and determine the how serious it is. If you think that your child needs help to stop the bullying, then ask your child which members of staff she feels comfortable with, and with whom you can talk. If she can’t think of any, then tell her who you plan to contact.

2. Contact the first line of defence

Contact school personnel such as teachers, coaches or counsellors for their assistance in ending the bullying. Make sure that they inform the other members of staff that your child is being bullied os that they can all help.

3. Develop a game plan

No child should have to handle bullying alone. Now that you’ve shared the problem with the school staff, you can work together on how best to approach the problem. Perhaps they can change some classes to keep your child away from those who bullied her. If that’s not possible, a sympathetic teacher can at least help her to find a different place to sit in class, away from the bully.

4. Change your child’s outlook and routine

Introducing some new elements to your child’s life can help to stop recurring patterns of bullying:

  • Instead of focusing on the people and things she doesn’t like about school, try to focus on the people and aspects of school that she does enjoy.

  • Finding new after-school activities, such as joining a drama club or sports team, can offer your child ways to enjoy a fresh start with a new group of friends.

  • Making fun plans for weekends, evenings, and school vacations will mean that she always has things to look forward to and aren’t focused on what happened in the past.

  • Your child is probably not the only student at her school who has been bullied. Tell her to start a conversation with someone else who is struggling with bullies. They may be able to help each other heal.

4. Keep track

Keep an ongoing log of the dates of any further bullying incidents and the actions you take to help your daughter deal with the bullying. Inform the school of ongoing bullying incidents.

5. Look out for escalation

Take it seriously if you hear that the bullying has worsened because your child has enlisted the help of others, or if threats of physical harm are involved. If you want to speak directly to the bullies parents, it's best to do so in a context where a school official or counsellor can mediate.

6. Contact the principal

If the first line isn't able to get the bullying under control, then it's time to make a formal request (in writing) with the principal. The principal will then take action directly with the bullies and their families.

7. Take it to the top

Most schools have bullying policies and anti-bullying programs. If your school doesn't have one, consider starting one with other parents, teachers, and concerned adults. In addition, many governing authorities such as states, cities, communities, etc. have bullying laws and policies. Find out about the laws in your community. In certain cases, if you have serious concerns about your child's safety, you may need to contact legal authorities.

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