SUGGESTIONS FOR PARENTS
WHEN DEALING WITH BULLYING
By Brenda High, Co-Director and Founder of Bully Police
USA - Download: http://www.bullypolice.org/dealing_with_bullying.pdf,
for a printable copy.
I know how parents feel when they realize their child
has been bullied at school. In your mind, you want to immediately
run down to your child's school, grab some Administrator or Teacher by
the throat, and yell at him/her. However, stay calm and think about
how your child is feeling. They probably did not want to come to
you and tell you about the bullying because they believe that if you say
or do something about it, the bullying might get worse. Sometimes
they are right in their fears, but if your complaint process is handled
right, more often than not, the bullying will stop.
Get the story of the bullying as correct as possible
from your child
Listen to your child with your heart and with your mind.
Let your child know they have done the right thing by coming to talk to
you and that you will find a way to help solve this problem. Get
your child's ideas on what they think is the best action to take.
Your child is feeling like they have lost control of their school life
and that someone else, the bully, is controlling them. Let them know
that you will be on their side, (their “lawyer”) and will find a solution.
Ask for their cooperation if there needs to be minor changes on their part,
(i.e. a few changes in behavior, dress, or social skills).
Think about how you will approach the school
If the school has no knowledge that your child being
bullied, then it is fair to give the school a reasonable amount of time
to work out minor problems to your child's and your satisfaction as a parent.
A reasonable amount of time might be three days or one week.
Request a daily update from your school, and from the
teacher, if the bullying happened in his/her classroom. A “fair”
amount of time is about one school week. Remind your school that
every day your child is being bullied is like an eternity to him/her and
your child wants the bullying to stop. .
Pretend you are a lawyer and put EVERYTHING in writing.
Tape record statements, type them up and have witnesses sign the statements.
Take pictures of injuries, places (buildings), people, etc.
Enough cannot be said about documentation. Getting the
dates, times, locations, and names, not only of the bullying incidents,
but also those you talked to at the school. Write down any information
that you feel important for reference later, especially any comments made
by the principal, superintendent, teachers, etc.
After communicating with an administrator, write a recap
of what was said. Fax a copy to the administrator and ask them to
correct or change anything that is incorrect or any misunderstandings.
Let the administrator know that you will be doing this so that he/she is
clear about your desire to solve the bullying. This will assure all
parties involved that solutions to the bullying of your child are what
you want for an outcome.
Try hard to control the anger you may be having over the
bullying. The “poison pen” document full of anger will not accomplish
anything and administrator and teachers may have the natural reaction to
become angry back. We are all human, well most of us are all human
?. Administrators will be more willing to help if you act and write
statements about your child's bullying situation in a mature and diplomatic
way. Keeping and sharing detailed documents will help the school
admit that they have a problem with bullying and that they must take responsibility.
Online Bullying or Cyberbullying
If your child is being bullied online, copy EVERYTHING.
Save all emails or instant-message conversations.
You may feel that you cannot do anything about online
bullying because you cannot find the cyberbully. This may not always
be true. Computer specialists can track down internet provider addresses
of offending websites, and there are computer whizzes that are making a
living off fines collected from email spammers. Some police
departments have hired these specialists to work in their criminal investigation
departments and a good computer and internet investigator is in high demand.
If your son or daughter is getting threatening email, your local police
department may be able to help or lead you to a private investigator with
computer skills. If the emails are terrorist type threats, report
this immediately to the police, who will then report it to the F.B.I.
Parents sign a service agreement when they sign up
for internet services
Here are some examples of service agreements with internet
providers and/or hosts to websites, (i.e. AOL, MSN, XO, Earthlink, etc.)
WebPages - By applying to register a domain
name, or by asking us to maintain or renew a domain name registration,
you hereby represent and warrant to us that (a) the statements that you
made in connection with such application for registration, maintenance,
or renewal are complete and accurate; (b) to your knowledge, the registration
of the domain name will not infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights
of any third party; (c) you are not registering the domain name for an
unlawful purpose; and (d) you will not knowingly use the domain name in
violation of any applicable laws or regulations. You agree and acknowledge
that it is your responsibility to determine whether your domain name registration
infringes or violates someone else's rights...
YOU REPRESENT THAT, TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND
BELIEF, NEITHER THE REGISTRATION OF THE DOMAIN NAME YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR
NOR THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS INTENDED TO BE OR IS DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY
USED INFRINGES THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF A THIRD PARTY.
How law enforcement can get your information
- …may disclose personal information about Visitors or Members, or information
regarding your use of the Services or Web sites accessible through our
Services, for any reason if, in our sole discretion, we believe that it
is reasonable to do so, including:
to satisfy laws, such as the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act, regulations, or governmental or legal requests
for such information; to disclose information that is necessary to identify,
contact, or bring legal action against someone who may be violating our
Acceptable Use Policy or other user policies;
to operate the Services
properly; or to protect our Members.
The parents of students who are doing the bullying may
be liable for the emotional damages caused by their child to another child.
If the cyberbullys’ parents know what is going on (or had received a letter
of complaint), they have “knowledge and notice” of harmful activity.
The parents are paying for the telephone bill and internet charges into
their home – they are legally responsible for the acts of their children
while on the computer and in their care. Parents can be sued for
Inform your school administrators about the cyberbullying
your child is experiencing. If cyberbullying happens on school time
or with school computers, schools come under the “knowledge and notice”
rule. If, while a child is being cyberbullied, he/she is threatened
to be “beat up” or assaulted while they are in school, the schools must
take responsibility for activities that follow a child from their home
to their school.
"I was just reading through http://www.jaredstory.com/bullying_whattodo.html
... and I thought I'd pass along some inside information for your section
on online bullying. I used to work at a large Canadian ISP owned by Tucows,
and part of my job there was to deal with abuse complaints. I was also
responsible for much of the early research done by the Canadian Association
of Internet Providers on
spam and abuse. I left the industry in the late 90's but I still maintain
some contacts in the business.
"Call the ISP, and ask to speak to a customer service
manager. Explain the situation and ask them if you will require a court
order to identify a bully. We were only too happy to help, but could not
release private information without a court order, because of privacy laws.
Some ISPs may give you that information freely, but if they give you the
bully's identity without a court order, that identification might get thrown
out of court later on, so it is in your own best interest to secure that
"The other thing I always told complainants was to
be on their 100% best, most courteous behavior no matter what the bully
says to them online. I know it isn't fair to be told you can't tell a bully
what a jerk they are ...but if you are as nasty to them as they are
to you, the ISP administrator could decide the exchange is essentially
mutual. I had to do that quite a few times - things had gotten so
bad, that it was impossible to tell who had started things, and neither
side was prepared to be the first to let it go. If you are always
polite, and insist only that the bully leave you alone, or better yet,
do that once and do not respond to them at all, it will be clear who the
bully really is.
"There are also technological tools that can help deal
with online bullies. Most Instant Messenger programs, and virtually all
email and Usenet readers have what we old time Internet folks call "twit
filters". They can be called filters or "rules" in some programs. Look
in the help files for them. Just block the bully out. Online, it does
not pay to "fight back". Block them, ignore them, filter them out.
"Where this will not work is when a bully posts threatening
or defamatory information on a web page. It is very important that before
you complain that you PRINT THE PAGE. The ISP won't likely keep a copy,
nor will they monitor it. That is up to you. Keep it in your "bully binder"
where you keep your other documentation. Find the ISP's "Terms of Service"
document - many of them have abuse pages where they post what they will
and won't tolerate. We took down many sites without requiring a court order
- because they were threatening or defamatory, they were in clear violation
of our TOS.
"You may want to monitor web sites for your child's
name - the search sites, like Google, can be useful for this. Google even
has an "alerts" page
that will email you when new pages are posted with keywords you specify
... I do not know how comprehensive this is, but it is worth a shot, and
it is free. The ISP won't do this - they don't have the technology, nor
will they ever choose to have it, there is too much liability for them.
They rely on people to complain when they find objectionable material,
rather than actively seeking it out.
"You may also use tools
to monitor your child's Internet use if you believe that they are being
bullied but will not speak up about it. This program, and others like it,
will help in capturing every possible instance of online bullying in just
about all the different programs your child may use. You might not like
the idea of spying on your child, but if you do nothing, the outcome could
be far worse." Brandi Jasmine - Stop Bullying
Written Notes – Phone bullies
If your child is being bullied through written notes,
phone, or in person, document EVERYTHING.
Save all written notes, even if they are not technically
bullying. Do NOT throw them away as they can be used to identify
a bullying pattern or possibly identify handwriting.
If your child is being bullied in phone conversations,
try to get the verbal bullying on your answering machine or on tape.
Make it a habit not to answer the telephone right away. Wait for
the answering machine to pick up a message. If it is for someone
else, the family member can just pick up the phone. Get caller ID
and take a picture of the number that the call is coming from. This
will document the phone number, date the call came in, and time of day.
Taping someone's conversation without his or her consent cannot be used
in court but using a recorded message left on a message machine CAN be
used in court. Have your child record in a notebook everything the
bully said. Written notes can also be used in court.
You can also call the telephone company and get their
advice on handling threatening phone calls. If the phone company
feels you have basis (and your written record will help), they can trace
and record threatening calls for you.
Some bullying must require immediate and swift action
It is not the job of school administrators or teachers
to act as police officers when a serious bullying incident occurs.
In cases of a major harassment situation such as a physical or sexual assault,
call the police immediately. Age is not an issue, as 6-year-old’s
have been known to bring guns to school and/or violently bully. (A
6-year-old boy shot and killed a classmate a few years ago in Florida.)
Serious offenses must be handled by the police and entered
on the abuser or perpetrator's police record or Juvenile Record.
School Administrators can take some actions against bullies and perpetrator's
but they are not police officers and they open themselves up to lawsuits
when they fail to report this type of violent bullying.
There are assault and battery laws that pertain to juvenile
offenders. Do not wait. Tell the police right away and have a report
With the proof you have collected, especially when there
has been physical violence, obtain a restraining order.
Its time to spill the beans
There are countless stories of life threatening injuries
bullied children and teens have suffered without the parent or school even
knowing about the bullying. A child may feel that if a parent intervenes
the bullying will get worse. They think they can be quiet and endure
bullying/abuse for the short run thinking things will change, but doing
nothing ensures that nothing will change.
There is a feeling of empowerment, and healing, that comes
to people who tell their stories. The same is true for bullied kids.
Encourage your child to write their stories and begin to talk about what
they are going through. They can tell a parent, counselor, teacher,
administrator, a lawmaker, and the news media or even write a book.
Help your son or daughter make decisions that will be proactive and work
towards a positive solution to their bullying problem.
What to do when the administrators or teachers will
Once in awhile, sadly, administrators and/or teachers
will not stop the bullying. They may give many excuses but the number
one excuse is that they lack time and resources to deal with just one child,
that they have too many students to worry about one child being bullying.
“Let them figure it out by themselves,” “Its part of growing up,”
or “Boys will be boys” is still the attitude of many uneducated school
Now the parent has to go on a “mission” to save their
child. Here are some things a parent can do to bring awareness to
There is strength in numbers. Try to find out the names of
other families within your child's school who are experiencing similar
bullying and harassment issues. As a group, you can have even a stronger
voice for change and action.
Bullying is an adult problem
Do not let anyone, (Administrators, teachers, etc.),
try to put the blame of bullying on your child, a victim of the bully.
The blame is always on the bully and the reason for the bullying is that
adults allow it to happen. Bullies bully because they can, and because
they can get away with it. Adults let bullies get away with bullying
and when adults choose to do something to stop the bullying, it will stop.
Tell administrators that you will discuss your child's
problems when they have resolved the bullying.
Consider getting your Child Welfare Authorities involved
Child Social Services may help if there is enough documentation.
Bully Police USA is looking into this possibility further.
When to call an attorney
If you have not been satisfied with the response you
have received from School Administrators within a reasonable period, then
hire an Attorney. If this is a case of a major harassment situation,
such as a physical or sexual assault, call an Attorney within 24 hours.
DO NOT let your school become your attorney! They have already proven
that they do not have your child's best interest in mind or they would
have solved the bullying problem. They are not the parents of your
child and they do not love your child as you do. Armed with your
documented evidence, and your repeated requests for help, you will find
that the schools will take responsibility for their actions, or they will
pay for their incompetence in court.
Going to the top for help
Check out www.bullypolice.org to see if your state has
an anti bullying law. If your state needs improvement or has no law,
contact your local State Representative or State Senator and get something
started. Ask them to support State laws that will protect children
from bullies, students who are whistle blowers, give counselors to victims,
and make stronger laws to force bullies to take responsibility for their
actions. If your State has a law, than insist that your school districts
obey the law.
Be sure and read up on how to get a good anti bullying
law at the www.bullypolice.org
website. Do your homework. Obtain copies of your State law and your
school district policies regarding bullying, harassment, and your child's
right to a safe learning environment. If your school does not have
a policy, insist that they get one and volunteer to get on the committee
to write it.
Its time that every school in America has a clear direction,
by common sense laws, to stop the hurt and pain that goes on every day
in a place where our children should feel safe and secure. .
It only takes one voice to make a difference.
In the aftermath – how to help your child heal
Keep listening and communicating with your child.
Ask them questions about how they are doing in school, like, “Did you play
with anyone on the playground today?” or “Did you sit with anyone at lunch
today”. You are checking to see if your child is spending any time
with friends. A lonely child is at great risk for depression.
Continue to ask your child about the bullying and whether the situation
Consider getting your child in to see a Counselor or Therapist.
Check with the school district to see if they have any qualified counselors,
who have dealt with bullying and the conditions it may cause, like depression,
anxiety and post traumatic stress disorders. Follow up frequently
with the school
See who else in your area has children going through bullying
or have children who have dealt with bullying. A positive and proactive
approach would be to work with your school district to get a quality anti
bullying program into your local schools. This can also be a “healing”
activity, to take away the anger that victims of bullying harbor inside.
Get creative - Bullying decreases when students, parents and child activists
show their numbers, demanding positive changes inside their schools.
Find a healing extracurricular activity. There are
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, self-defense classes, volunteer organizations
in the community, church activities, or community events. Do something
as a family or perhaps develop a hobby.
Stay united as a family
Remember that you are not alone. There are a good number
of us out there experiencing the same thing. Have a game plan in mind including
removing your child from the school, home schooling, requesting that the
school provide a tutor, etc. These are often hard decisions to make, but
they may be the only options available as you work at resolving the problem.
“Be strong. Turn your anger and disgust into something
positive. You owe it to yourself and your child's academic success and
happiness." Ken Kuczynski, President Power of One Foundation,