Parents can become involved in reducing violent behaviors and creating safer environments for their children at home and at school. Parents are encouraged to review school handbooks, websites or other district sources of information relating to bullying and discuss the policy and expectations with their children.
Parent – School Collaboration
A partnership between parents and the school to prevent bullying behaviors is based on a shared understanding of bullying, policies of the school and basic intervention strategies.
- Schools are encouraged to provide information and resources for parents to talk with their children about bullying.
- When the school and parents initiate conversations with children about bullying in general terms, children know that they also can discuss this issue
- Parents and school staff are encouraged to take the issue of bullying seriously if a child has experienced bullying as a bully, target or bystander by following up with one another to have a conversation about what has been observed or reported.
- It is often true that adults may not be aware of the bullying behaviors as bullying most often occurs where adults are not present. Either the school staff or a parent may be the first to know about an incident based on a report from the child or a circumstance where they happen to see, hear or become aware of bullying. Parents should not assume that the behavior has been reported or observed by adults in the school.
- Concerns about bullying issues at school can generally be addressed when parents talk with the classroom teacher, school counselor or building administrator.
- Parents and school staff should be familiar with the school anti-bullying policy and any related policies or programs and address bullying behaviors using the appropriate process. When making a report, it is helpful to provide a clear and detailed description of what has been observed or experienced. All reports should be taken seriously and acted on using established policy and procedures.
Refer to the school district’s anti-bullying policy and reporting procedures for guidance on the local process to make a report. If that is not available, typically the following procedure is appropriate. Generally, reporting bullying behaviors to the school begins with the classroom teacher or building administrator and proceeds to the next contacts only if the issue is not resolved.
- Report to the classroom teacher, school counselor and/or the building administrator (principal)
- Report to the district superintendent
- Report to the district school board
- Contact the Nebraska Department of Education Legal Department for professional practice complaints (402-471-0731)
If the bullying behavior involves criminal conduct (theft, assault, battery, etc), use the following reporting procedure in addition to notification to the school.
- Report to local law enforcement
- Contact the county attorney
Advice for parents and family members of children who engage in bullying behaviors
- Consider this a serious behavior concern and let your child know in a calm manner that the behavior is not acceptable.
- Attempt conversation with your child to discuss more acceptable behaviors. Give your child opportunities to practice the expected behaviors.
- Often children who engage in bullying behaviors do not recognize and respond to the feelings of others appropriately. Provide opportunities to teach your child skills in empathy – recognizing and responding to another person’s feelings. Literature and movies offer resources for generating discussions about emotions.
- If the school contacts you regarding the behavior of your child, be prepared to work with the school to help change the behaviors of your child. A collaborative plan that is implemented at both home and school will have greater impact on changing behaviors.
- Encourage and model respectful behaviors for your child.
Advice for parents and family members of a child who has been bullied or witnessed bullying
- Keep communication lines open so there is a comfort level in reporting an incident. Encourage your child, whether a target or a bystander, to report any bullying behavior to you. Acknowledge the child’s feelings and let the child know that reporting was the right thing to do.
- Do not dismiss the situation by asking the child to ignore the bullying or take care of it on their own. Adult support is a key component to changing bullying situations and keeping children safe.
- Explore ideas and alternatives to address the situation. Ask what the child has done to try to stop the bullying. Generate a list of additional ideas for stopping the behavior; i.e., stay in safe or supervised areas, develop and practice assertive statements, know how to make a report, identify other children or teachers who can offer support or help, etc. Fighting back and ignoring the situation are not helpful and should not be on the list of ideas for stopping bullying.
- Decide if the problem should be solved in collaboration with the school. Discuss with your child how the incident could be reported to school personnel if the behavior occurs at school or impacts the learning environment. Decide who should know – consider the protocol in your local school policy and any staff members who your child can trust. Be accurate in reporting the details of the incident.
- Do not confront the child or parents of the child who bullies.
- Involve your child in social activities that provide opportunities to build relationships and develop pro-social skills.