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Parenting & Education in Ireland

Approaching The School



Parents are sometimes reluctant to complain to their school about their children being bullied. You may be concerned about how the problem will be handled e.g. will complaining make matters worse What about confidentiality? Will you be seen merely as a fussy parent or a crank? Will teachers take it as a criticism of their management skills or their professionalism?

While these are understandable concerns, it is important to remember that adult intervention is almost always required to stop bullying when there is an imbalance of power between bully and victim. Because by its nature, bullying happens in secret, you may find that teachers are unaware of the problem. You may also feel impatient if the bullying is not being investigated as fast as you would wish. This might not necessarily mean that the school is dragging its heels. As well as focusing on the needs of your child, teachers may also be interviewing other students and managing the bullying situation within the school’s anti-bullying procedures. All this takes time.

School Anti-Bullying Policy

Every school is obliged to have a very specific policy on dealing with bullying. The school’s anti-bullying policy should state clearly who your first point of contact should be. Telephone the school and request an appointment with the appropriate person or the Principal.

Have your facts prepared;

  • Names of children involved and of witnesses. Your son/daughter may not be the only one being bullied
  • The nature of the incident/s
  • Dates, times and locations of incidents

At the meeting:
  • Ask to have the incident investigated.
  • Ask what support the school can offer your son/daughter, e.g. counselling or supervised mediation between the parties if appropriate.
  • What action will be taken to protect your child from retaliation?

What can you expect from the school

The school’s Anti-Bullying Policy Document should clarify the procedures which are in place for dealing with complaints. Most incidents will be dealt with in meetings between the teacher and the accused student(s). Verbal warnings are often sufficient to end the bullying if followed up by frequent monitoring. If the bullying persists or if it is serious enough to warrant it, the parents of the bully may be required to attend a meeting with the principal. In general it is not advisable that you approach the parents of the bully directly.

When the problem has been resolved to your satisfaction and the satisfaction of your child, encourage the young person to go out, make new friends, and avoid brooding. However, he/she will need plenty of encouragement from you at this time to help them come to terms with what has happened. Taking up a new interest or developing a new skill will help your teenager to move on.

Sources:
The Essential Parents Guide to the Secondary School Years - available from Primary ABC
The Cool School Programme

    Return to our section focussing on Bullying

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