Bullying Prevention and Help
A Resource for Parents and Family Members
Addressing bullying in school requires collaboration between parents/family members and the teacher, the principal and other staff at the school as well as the students. This resource will help guide you through the process of working with the school to address the bullying.
Table of Contents
If a student is being bullied, we tell them to talk to a trusted adult, a parent and other family member about their concerns. As a parent or family member you can be a valuable advocate for your student and the first step you can take is to report bullying. While you can report the bullying verbally to the school, we recommend that you make the report in writing and submit it through email or mail. It’s a good practice for schools to have bullying report forms available to students and parents at school or on the school’s website. If the school does not have such forms, the School Safety Technical Assistance Center has sample bullying report forms students and parents can use. The Elementary School Student Sample Bullying Report Form will help young students report bullying. The High School Student Sample Bullying Report Form will help older students detail bullying incidents.
If the bullying and mean behavior continues after your student or you have reported it, we recommend that ask to meet with the teacher. If this meeting discussion does not result in the needed support for your student, you can request a meeting with the principal.
Dealing with your student being bullied is a situation that evokes strong feelings for you and rightly so. But, as you move forward, it is important that you stay calm and focused on the facts when you talk with school personnel about what you think is best for your child. School staff will be better able to work with you and take steps to resolve the bullying when you present the facts without becoming overly emotional.
We recommend that you keep notes on any communication you have with an administrator or school personnel. If possible, send the school a follow-up communication after each meeting. We advise you keep copies of the written correspondence to track the steps you’ve taken to address the issue.
There are many ways to have a successful meeting. In the section that follows, we include a sample outline for an effective meeting. It will help you to: build rapport with school personnel; share your concerns; ask questions about the school’s bullying prohibition and intervention policy and practices; and develop a plan to stop the bullying and ensure that your child is safe and supported in school.
This outline is a sample. You do not need to use all of these questions in your meeting. You may only have 30 minutes for a meeting, or your meetings with school staff may be on-going. Adjust your agenda as needed.
These meetings, as noted above, can be challenging, so it can be helpful to take a little time to get to know the participants to both learn their role in the school or family, and on a small, personal level.
- Ask everyone in the meeting to share their name and their job at the school or in the community.
- Ask them to finish the following sentence: “The best thing about today is ____?”
Before getting into your child’s specific situation, it is helpful to gain an understanding of the school’s bullying prohibition policy and discipline practices. Starting the conversation by talking about policy allows the school administrators to explain actions they’ve taken involving bullying without violating FERPA, a law that protects the privacy of other students.
Questions to Ask
- What is the school policy regarding bullying? May I have a copy?
- What is the school procedure for taking in and investigating a bullying report? The center’s Suggested Process for Handling Bullying Reports outlines what steps to take in an investigation.
- Where can I find the school’s bullying report forms? Who do I submit them to?
- What are all the options available to the principal to respond to someone who has bullied another student?
- What are the different options or actions the principal can take to help the student who has been bullied to feel safe again at school? The Safe and Supportive Schools Act requires schools to use remedial responses to bullying, that is, they need to address the behavior of the person who did the harm and address the needs of the student who was hurt. What are the different options or actions the principal can take to help the student who has been bullied to feel safe again at school?
- My child has experienced (describe the bullying experience) at school.
- My child (and/or I) reported this verbally to (Name).
- My child (and/or I) reported this in writing to (Name).
- My other concerns for my child include (share your concerns).
What plan can we make to help my child be safe at school that does not disrupt my child’s routine?
Examples of remedial responses to help the student who has been harmed include:
(This is not exhaustive list and, except for restorative practices, does not include ideas for addressing the behavior of the person who did the harm.)
- Increased adult supervision in areas where the student has been bullied.
- Informing other teachers about concerns so they can make appropriate decisions in their classroom to maintain the safety for your child.
- Identifying an adult that your child trusts who agrees to check-in with your child every day.
- Increasing training for all adults on how to identify and more effectively every time they see harmful behaviors.
- Making adjustments in school to ensure safety. The student who has been a target of bullying should not have to re-arrange their routine in school for safety, i.e., move desks, change lockers, go to the bathroom at off times, eat alone or with a teacher, leave a class early or come late to avoid harm. Adjustments for safety should be arranged with the student who has done the bullying.
- Offering the choice of participating in a restorative process. If there are staff at the school or in the community who have been trained and have experience in facilitating a face-to-face meeting between the person who did the harm and the person harmed and other supporters and people affected by the harm. A trained Restorative Practices facilitator has attended at least one, three-to-four training and knows how to conduct pre-meetings, the conference or circle and the follow-up circle.
If you have concerns about safety on the school bus, the Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment on Our Nation's School Buses resource includes recommendations. (https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/resources/creating-safe-and-respectful-environment-our-nations-school-buses)
If your child has a 504 plan or an individualized education program (IEP) contact MDE’s Compliance and Assistance division for more suggestions at (651) 582-8689.
- What can I do to help make this plan work?
- How will you check to see if the plan is working? How often will you check to see if the plan is working?
- When can I expect a report on this plan and how well it is working?
- Can we please schedule a time to review this plan in two or three weeks?
- Review the plan.
- Schedule a follow-up phone call or in-person meeting.
- Thank everyone for their help.