What’s A Parent To Do?
Schools must do all it can to help stop and prevent bullying it knows or should have known was happening in their district. Otherwise, the school can become legally responsible if it has not done anything to prevent or stop this offensive behavior.
Last week’s blog concerned a Missouri principal and a school superintendent who removed two seniors’ quotes from a yearbook without warning. The two gay males were targeted because they alluded to the fact they were gay in their quotes that were amusing and self-deprecating, hardly offensive. The school personnel apologized later to the boys and said it was a learning experience, but the seniors already felt the sting.
Sometimes, a parent can take all the right steps to combat bullying: has written down the date, details, nature of incident, statement from your child, witnesses, and an account of your child’s emotional state and has reported it to the teacher or principal. He has also kept accurate records of any additional incidents that may occur and any response received from the school. And nothing gets accomplished! Your son or daughter is still bullied. What else can you do?
Did you know that:
• Some schools have a contact person trained to deal with bullying. The school Guidance Counselor would know.
• Contact the School Board, Superintendant,
• If you don’t get satisfaction, seek a lawyer specializing in cases involving bullying. Or an education attorney if school has been negligent. Your child deserves to be educated in a safe space.
• If you’re concerned with safety, contact your local police. Make it clear that your child has been bullied, and that the school has neglected its duty to provide a learning environment that is free of harassment and bullying.
• Request that the officer visit the bully for a talk. Don’t you try to remediate the situation.
Keep in mind that often teachers and other school professionals do not witness bullying because it happens out of their sight (e.g. playgrounds, locker rooms, bathrooms, buses).
If you’re not getting support from the school, stay in touch daily and weekly with the principal, teacher, guidance counselor. If they still don’t give you satisfaction, you may have to call the American Civil Liberties Union or as a last resort, have your child enroll in another school.
For more tips, see DiMarco, J.E. and Newman, M.K. (2011). When Your Child is Being Bullied/ Real Solutions for Parents, Educators and Other Professionals. Vivisphere Publishing.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.