What can I do to protect my child from bullying at school?

My kids go to a school where there was a lot of publicity about bullying, the police were involved. Although my children were not severely involved last year, there were some problems. I am concerned with what might happen this year. What can I do if there is bullying at school?

Bullying can be very destructive to children. You are wise to do everything you can to protect your children from bullying.

Bullying is both a system problem and an individual problem. Let’s deal with the system problem first. Next time we will tackle what you can teach your child to help them.

You have to have a plan for dealing with the school. It is the authorities’ responsibility to keep your child safe when they are in their care. The same is true at summer camp or other place where your kid is going.

Your job is to hold them to that responsibility.

Before any bullying occurs, encourage your school to adopt a non-bullying program.

If bullying occurs, write out what happened. Make sure you get your child’s story straight.

If the bullying involves violence or serious threats of violence, the police and the principal should be called immediately.

If the bullying is less serious, tell the teacher and principal about the bullying. A face-to-face meeting is best but a phone call or email is OK. Be courteous. Give them details.

Be clear that you expect the school to stop the bullying and keep your child safe. If they seem responsive, give them a few days to act. Contact the teacher or principal in a few days to see how it is going. Tell them of any more bullying.

Keep detailed notes of your meetings and calls. Always ask for confirmation of your contacts.

If the bullying stops, send a thank-you note. Copy it to the superintendent at the school board.

It is hard to know when to move up the next step.

If the bullying continues, send a letter about what is happening. Insist on immediate action to stop the bullying. Send a copy of the letter to the superintendent.

If the problem does not resolve send a letter to the school board and enclose copies of your letters and notes to the school.

There is strength in numbers. Get other parents of bullied children, your school board trustee and the parent teacher association involved.

Keep up the pressure. Every week, write another letter. Don’t give up.

If everything fails, you may have to move your child to another school.

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