Bullying – What To Do When the Schools Turn Their Backs

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Bullying continues to be a problem in schools all over the country, and many school administrators either aren’t taking it seriously or lack the authority to do anything about it when it goes beyond school grounds.

I want to share an article that I read in a parenting advice blog on Boston.com.  A mother wrote in with a story about her daughter, who had been bullied for two years up until that day.  The mother tried switching her daughter’s school but was rejected.  When she went to the school principal seeking advice or intervention, he simply ignored her.

The principal’s cold-shoulder response to this issue eventually led the mother to consider more drastic solutions, like moving to another town, despite the fact that she had other children in other schools.  This situation begs the questions:

Why should a parent feel pressured to move away in order to protect their child(ren) from a school bully?

What right does the principal have to ignore the two-year-long situation that one of his students is going through?

In addition to the advice columnist’s advice, dozens of other moms and concerned parents gave their take on the situation.  One response stood out from the others, and I feel that it’s worth summarizing because it’s a good way to get a response out of school administrators who decide to ignore extreme bullying:

“Bullies are like cockroaches and schools that turn a blind eye are like negligent landlords. The reality is that even in 2010 some schools do not choose to take action. It’s disgusting, and fumigation is the answer.

If you have made two phone calls to the principal and got nowhere, stop calling. […]WRITE A LETTER TO THE PRINCIPAL AND SEND IT BY REGISTERED MAIL. KEEP COPIES AND THE POST OFFICE RECEIPTS. State very clearly the kinds of bullying, most recent incidents, and names. State when you called the teacher and the principal.

If your daughter feels physically threatened and you have sent registered letters, call your local police and ask their advice. You must be able to show them evidence that you made the effort to contact the school directly before they will intervene.

If the bullying is happening online, KEEP (digital) COPIES. […]Fill up a burn-once CD with a copy of those files and give that copy to the police. Ask them to help you.

(You can learn how to do that here.)

I guarantee that you will never have to waste your time talking to any principal when he/she gets a visit from the police with such evidence. The police can also contact parents when they have evidence such as emails or online postings.

Even if charges are not laid, the police making visits with such evidence in hand will have a remarkable disinfecting effect on the matter. The school gets the message that they are accountable. The parents get the message that they are legally responsible for garbage being sent from their homes and cellphones.

The best thing that you can give your daughter is such tools for putting a stop to illegal behavior. Counseling is useful but real action is necessary for her emotional health.”

Bullying advice is useless if it’s not shared with others.  It’s important that we parents support each other by sharing the tools and methods we use or learn about to help better protect our children from bullying.

I encourage parents to stand up at the PTA meetings and let the educators hear your concerns about this situation.  Write out your advice/experiences online to share with others – it could really help someone.  Stay on top of the latest news regarding things like cyberbullying laws, including what schools are doing at a local level and what the government is doing at a federal level.

If you want to read more on how to combat bullying, check out these posts:

How to Get Kids to Talk About Bullying
How to Keep Digital Copies of Cyberbullying
Parents Teaching Parents How to Deal With Cyberbullying

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  • If you get no help from the principal,immediately contact the school district’s superintendent and demand a superintendent hearing. Call your school board representative and let them know that the principal is violating your child’s rights. You should do all this in writing as recommended above. I also suggest you include copies to your city’s district attorney as well. You should also send a copy to the state’s department of education commissioner and demand that they investigate why the school administration is breaking the law.

  • Hi Mary Kay–
    Good post for a truly difficult topic to manage. Just wanted to add 2 cents:
    –Cyberbullying is now illegal (I don’t have the penal code violation on hand), and an Education Code violation, too. Every school district is different, but the federal and state laws obviously trump district policies.
    Many schools and administrators could be doing more, sure, but parents and their children hold a lot of power, too.

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