There are few things harder than watching a child come home day after day upset, in distress, or anguish over mistreatment, harassment, bullying, and torment at school. Bullying can be perpetrated by other students and even teachers. Bullying is one of the leading causes of depression, anxiety, and emotional anguish for children and teenagers under 18.
Bullying can difficult to talk about. Perpetrators of bullying often seize on a child or teen’s deepest insecurities, and often times, the victims of bullying are children of different backgrounds, races, religions, or in some cases are considered special needs children. Many teens and children suffer in silence, believing as though it is not something that they can talk about with their parents. Parents, on the other hand, can be reluctant to get involved, either out of respect of the child’s requests for independence, or to avoid making the situation worse.
Victims of bullying and their families should not feel alone. There are resources available to help families cope with bullies and call on the school system to exert greater vigilance in combating school bullying. If you or your child is being bullied, here are some tips:
Check the school’s policies on bullying. California schools are required to maintain and enact policies on handling bullying. In many cases, they will spell out parent and victim’s rights. Many school districts now post policies online. Check the school and district’s web page to read about your rights.
Complete and submit a grievance form. The key to combating child bullying is creating a paper trail. Many school districts permit parents to complete grievance forms that will prompt an investigation.
Make yourself heard. It is important to make sure your complaints reach the right individuals in writing to be heard. Telephone or in-person discussions with a child’s teacher may seem to be a preferable option, but the right way to handle school bullying is to put your concerns in writing and ensure that they are seen by the administrators in charge for the school.
Speak to a lawyer. Lastly, if the bullying is pervasive and involves harassment, intimidation, threats, verbal or emotional abuse, assault, or physical abuse, it is best to speak to an attorney.