From a Bullying Survivor: What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied and the School Is Unresponsive

If you’re the parent of a bullied child and frustrated by a lack of responsiveness from your child’s school, if you’ve tried everything from meeting with the counselor to talking to the principal, perhaps even contacting the superintendent, and your child is still coming home in tears every day, don’t lose hope.

I’m a bullying survivor turned activist who travels the nation’s schools working with students, faculty and parents to help save lives. I know first-hand the anguish for both parents and administrators when there’s a child in crisis.  Parents, you need to keep a cool head and be guided by reason, not emotion. The calmer you are, the more you’ll achieve with the school. Making threats or irrational demands can diminish your credibility and put everyone on the defensive. You need to approach the school ready to cooperate and focus on finding solutions that won’t only benefit your child, but the student body as a whole. 

Also, try to keep in mind that, despite their cruel behavior, most bullies are good kids in bad circumstances acting out in a cry for help. Finding it in your heart to feel some compassion for your child’s bully (I know it’s a lot to ask) is far more likely to turn the situation around than giving into anger. Encourage the school to find out what’s driving the bully’s behavior. Perhaps something is going on at home, and he or she is bringing that anger and fear with them to class. It makes "fitting in" even more important, because for some of these kids, their friends are their only support and solace. And if they're feeling insecure, the bullying can get worse.  The key to breaking the cycle is the curiosity of caring adults and that includes you, the parents of the victim. Don’t jump to conclusions about your child’s bully. Ask questions and encourage the school to ask questions too. The solutions that offer the strongest long-term results are those that address the best interests of both bully and victim.

If you reach an impasse with the school or find you are being stonewalled, here are some specific steps to inspire action:

 1. Document, document, document! Help your child keep a journal of abuses - jot down dates, times and details. If there were witnesses, write down their names. For cyber-bullying, print out all nasty or threatening emails, blog or Facebook postings, instant messages, etc. Document threatening or demeaning cell phone texts as well. Many cell phones allow you to snap a screenshot photo of the text messages. You can also email the texts to yourself and then print them out.

 2. Ask your child the names of other kids at school that are also being bullied. Reach out to their parents, share with them what you and your child have been going through, and form a parental coalition. A school may try to ignore one concerned parent, but no school can ignore an organized constituency of determined parents.

 3. Keep taking it up the chain of command. If the principal doesn't give you a response, go to the superintendent. If that doesn't work, present your case in public at the next school board meeting. Every school district is required to hold a monthly school board meeting open to the public. Air your grievances there and bring your documentation, all of it; be prepared to make a very well thought out presentation of all that has happened!

 4. And if that still doesn't yield any action on the part of the school, contact the education writer at your local newspaper. You would be surprised how quickly a school administration will respond when reporters are asking questions.

Above all - don't give up.  One of the reasons so many students continue to get bullied even after a parent has approached the school, is that the parent doesn’t do the necessary follow up. Get involved, and STAY involved. Don’t assume after one or two meetings with a principal that the problem will resolve itself. You have to be as vigilant as you would with any important project. And remember, you're never alone. I'm here. Reach out if you need me, you can find my information on my website.

3/21/2017 10:00:00 PM
Jodee Blanco
Written by Jodee Blanco
Jodee Blanco is the author of numerous books on bullying including the seminal New York Times Bestseller Please Stop Laughing At Me… She’s presented her in-school anti-bullying program It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™ to over a half million students, teachers and parents worldwide. For more information, visit Jodee's websit...
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I've been through it with two daughters and one son. The school turned a blind eye at every report and request for help. Their stock answer was always "No teacher(s) saw it happen so there's nothing we can do about it". It got to the point with my oldest daughter that she came of legal age and signed the paperwork to drop out of school in her senior year, (without telling me or my wife about it). We got a call from the principal and set up a meeting. We convinced her to stay in school for the few months needed to get her diploma. (A roll of toilet paper would have been quicker, cheaper, more convenient and a lot more useful).
The next in line, my oldest son had problems with a bully who would knock him around in the halls at every opportunity. Again we got the stock response: "No teacher(s) saw it happen so there's nothing we can do about it".
Enough was enough so I told him that the only way to put a stop to it was to let the bully take one to the kisser. "You're going to get into as much trouble as Logan will, but you have to do it to end the BULLSHlT. The next time he messes with you just give him a good shot with whichever hand you can deliver a good punch with and I guarantee a teacher will see it."
Two days later I got a call from the principal telling me that my son got a three day in-school suspension for fighting. My immediate response was "GOOD! I hope he knocked Logan on his ass". The principal sounded flabbergasted at my reply so I followed up with "You assholes wouldn't do anything about it and he can't live like that so I told him to put a stop to it in language that Logan will understand". When I asked if anyone was seriously hurt I was told that there were no injuries to speak of then I said "Oh well he isn't trained to fight, I just told him to do what he has to do to stop the SHlT"
The two boys 'served their time' in the same room at the same time and even shared their lunches with each other. They walked away on friendly terms, (not good friends but friendly enough toward each other that there was never another problem). My son learned a valuable lesson or three from that incident.
1). You don't have to tolerate assh0les and idiots.
2). The people who say they are there to help you will not always help you.
3). When people in authority fail, you may have to take control of the situation.
4). When you stand up for yourself and do what needs to be done there will probably be consequences to pay, weigh the benefits against the disadvantages and do what needs to be done.
5). You can do it.
FWIW, Logan is a lot taller and a bit heavier than my son, he thought his size would give him an advantage over smaller classmates. I couldn't help but smile when my son gave me the details and said "I dropped the books he didn't knock out of my hand, then I jumped up and let him hold one in the kisser like you told me to do".
If the administrators are spineless wimps you'll have to realize that the victim will be punished as severely as the perpetrator when the situation is finally handled properly, but at least the the bad situation will come to an end.
This can be expected when you're surrounded by spineless liberals. (Most school teachers, administrators and college professors). Don't get me wrong, many of them think they have a spine but most of those are bullies themselves.
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