As a parent, your heart aches at the thought of your child being bullied, and you may feel helpless or think that getting involved will only make the bullying get worse. But there are steps you need to take to protect your child if you think they are being bullied at school or cyberbullied through sites such as Facebook and SnapChat.
Here are eight steps you need to take to put an end to the bullying and protect your child's legal rights if charges are filed:
- Talk to your child. Find out exactly what is going on and create an open dialogue with your child to work together. Let your child know you are supportive and trustworthy.
- Put the school on notice. Send a certified letter to the principal, the superintendant, the school board, and possibly the parents of the children doing the bullying.
- Keep accurate, detailed records of each incident that occurs. Include as much information as you can--the date, time, location, the names of each bully as well as any witnesses, and a detailed account of the incident.
- Document any bruising or other injuries with photographs and descriptions. If the child needs to see a doctor, get a medical report. If your child is suffering emotional distress, schedule a consultation with a social worker or psychologist and keep medical records.
- If your child is being cyberbullied, print out and save everything that contains offensive comments, posts, pictures, or videos. This includes any social network pages, emails, phone texts, and instant message pages.
- Notify the police. In cyberbullying cases, some police departments have specialists who deal with computer and internet investigations.
- Talk to the parents of the bullies as well as the teachers, the principal, the superintendant, the guidance counselor and anyone else in the school system who you believe can help. Take notes at these meetings.
- Find out if the school has a designated staff person trained for dealing with bullying. New York recently passed the Dignity for All Students Act which requires, among other things, for schools to have at least one staff member trained in instructional and counseling methods for dealing with bullying. Though the law will take July 1, 2012, many schools are already beginning to comply by having staff members undergo training.
If you have any questions about bullying in the schools or cyberbullying, Goldstein and Bashner is offering free advice and consultations to help arm you with the information you need to stop the bullying and take legal action if warranted. Contact us for a free consultation. We have handled many bullying cases and our lawyers are sensitive to the emotional issues involved with bullying and understand how difficult these cases can be for a child.