Stop the bullying...
Children are often reluctant to tell their parents about bullying, sometimes because they think their parents will be upset, but also because they may think the parents will storm into school, create a scene and make the problem much worse. But as a parent, there are plenty of things you can do to stop your child being bullied.
Reassure your child that you won't take any action without talking it through first but if they don't want you to contact the school because they are afraid of reprisals, agree a timescale of a week or so and explain that if the bullying is still going on after this time it's unlikely to stop unless the school is made aware of it. Agree that after that time you will talk again about a way forward. Have a look at our website Bullying Online
, which has a large amount of information that should help.
If the problem is a friendship which has ended and the bully has taken the child's friends away you could suggest that your child invites some of the other friends home over the weekend to try to renew those relationships away from the bully's influence. Often children go along with a bully because they are afraid they will be bullied themselves if they don't. Suggest that your child talks to the other friends individually and asks for their support.
The next step is to talk to the classroom teacher at a primary school or to the head of year at a secondary school. Ask for their help to resolve the situation. That's more effective than making a big fuss and demanding action. The teacher may be aware of disputes in class and might be able to change where your child sits if it can't be resolved. The head of year could alert subject other teachers to the problem and ask them to monitor what goes on in class.
Many parents find that bullying is sorted out at this stage, but if it continues you need to make a written complaint to the head teacher, explaining all the incidents and asking what action the head can take to stop the problem. It helps if your child can keep a diary so that the school can see that this is bullying and not just a friendship dispute. The school particularly needs to know if there is violence, racism or homophobia involved.
The head may ask you to a meeting so try to take someone else for moral support and to make notes. Work out what you want to say beforehand. Don't be fobbed off if you are told that there is no bullying in this school, explain that what is happening is making your child unhappy and needs to be stopped. Send a letter after the meeting outlining what your complaint was about and what you understand will be done about it. Ask for a meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss how things are going.
If bullying continues, or if the head doesn't seem to be taking it seriously, make a written complaint to the governors at the school address. Ask for a copy of the school bullying policy and also for a copy of your child's school file so that you can see whether your earlier complaints and any action taken have been recorded.
Governors usually back the head teacher so you may be told that nobody else has complained or that the head has acted appropriately. In that case you might want to find out whether any other parents have similar concerns and see if you can get together with them to press the school to revamp its bullying policy.
You should also be able to make a complaint to the council education department and to the DfES.
Copyright Bullying Online 2006