Sue Atkins: Dealing with the School if your Teen is Being Bullied
If your teen is being bullied and you’re not sure how to approach the school about it, here are some tips to get you started and what to do if it all goes wrong. This extensive and expertly created guide will help you through the process of reporting to the school about cases of bullying. Parenting expert Sue Atkins teamed up with Ditch the Label to create this all you need to know guide…
Dealing with the School
So you child is being bullied at school. You’re unaware of whether or not the school know or even care – how do you approach them in the most productive way? There are some basic things you should take in mind when approaching the school in cases of bullying and navigating the sometimes tricky situations when emotions are flying high..
- Firstly, be clear on what the school should be doing and if they are not doing it, draw their attention to this. Familiarise yourself with the school’s anti-bullying policy. Most schools should have one, you can usually find it on the school website under ‘policies’.
- Be prepared – Have what you want to say clearly planned out. Its easy to let emotions get the better of you especially when you’re angry or upset. Run through a few times what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.
- Tone of voice and body language are key. Keep a calm tone with relaxed body language. Ensure that you’re being assertive without coming across as aggressive.
- State your highest intention. What you want to happen is for the bullying to be resolved and for your child to feel safe, happy and secure in their school.
- Evidence. Ensure your child has been keeping a log of events that have taken place. It’s important that you can back up your claims with legitimate examples of the bullying that has taken place. Be specific on the nature of event, when it happened and where and what exactly was said or done.
The most important thing is to understand is that it’s about working WITH the school to get a solution. Respect from both parties is essential.
When Teachers Don’t Act – What to do if the school is being unhelpful
All state schools by law, must have a behaviour policy in place which includes measures to prevent bullying. Some schools will have a separate anti-bullying policy. There is no standardised policy across the UK that all schools must follow – it is decided upon by individual educational establishments so there can be a huge variation from school to school. The policy has to be made available to all staff, pupils and parents. It covers behaviour and conduct of pupils before, after and during the school day.
If you are not satisfied with the school’s action:
- Raise the situation with the school governors
- Make a formal complaint to the Local Education Authority (LEA)
- Complain to OFSTED on 0300 123 1231 or [email protected]
If you’re unhappy with the school’s actions, you are fully within your rights to file a complaint. Here is the typical process of complaints within the education sector:
Teacher > Senior Teacher (Head of Year/Department/House) > Assistant Head Teacher > Head Teacher > Board of Governors > Local Education Authority > OFSTED > Department for Education
How to Build Back Burnt Bridges with the School
So emotions have already run high and you’ve gone in all guns blazing and no one is helping you. How do you rebuild the trust and relationship within the school once it’s all gone south? The best approach is to be honest and approachable. Organise a phone call with the member of staff who you are dealing with and ask “Can we start again?”. It never hurts to apologise if you have lost your temper in the past.
- Explain your circumstances and reasons
- ask the question, “what can we do TOGETHER to get things sorted?”
- Ask them, “what do they need from me?”
- Ask yourself “What do you need from them?”
- Its also worth asking, “What can my child do?”
- Always arrange follow up meetings and phone calls to check in on progress.
My Teen Doesn’t Want me to Talk to the School
One of the most common problems that parents of children who are bullied encounter, is going against your child’s wishes and speaking to the school about the bullying.
Not only can schools be difficult to deal with at the best of times, then you have the added worry of potentially making matters worse for your child.
All too often, kids will finally muster up the courage to tell their parents that they are being bullied and make them promise that they won’t approach the school about it. No one wants to be seen as a snitch, right?
Well, the fact of the matter is that you have a duty of care to your child and other children to report cases of bullying to the school in which they are taking place. Not reporting it and taking matters into your own hands is never a good idea and you’re also letting down any other child that might be experiencing bullying in the school as well.
There is no quick fix on bullying so don’t expect everything to stop once the school is informed. Most schools will have a procedure to deal with cases of bullying and will be long and probably frustrating. It is important to remember that the school should always be the first point of call. That’s not to say that further down the line, you can go above to school if they’re not delaing with it in ways that they should be.
Work on the assumption that if you don’t tell them, how can they know? The truth is, no matter how good or bad the school is, the staff simply can’t be in every place at all times. It is so easy for bullying to slip under the radar of the staff. With this in mind, you assume that unless you report it, the school can’t and won’t do anything about it.
So, when you’re child says “I’m being bullied but I don’t want you to tell anyone” It is your duty to explain that you need to keep them safe but you will do it in the best and most effective way possible. Assure them the you will handle the situation in a subtle and careful way.