Dealing with Uncooperative School Officials

When you discover that your child has been victimized by a schoolyard bully, it can spur you into action. You may want to do everything in your power to immediately stop the bullying, and you expect the school to work with you, not against you, in these efforts. Imagine how shocked you would be to experience the following scenario:

Wayne came home from school upset and limping. Wayne's mom, concerned, asked him what happened. Wayne broke down and told his mom that three boys had been picking on him since the first day of school. Wayne told his mom that the three boys pushed him around every day on the playground and that sometimes when he fell down from being shoved really hard, the boys would kick him and stomp on his legs. Wayne showed his mom the bruises up and down his legs.

Wayne's mother was devastated. She was heartsick that her son had endured physical abuse at the hands of his classmates for so long, and she blamed herself for not knowing about it sooner. Wayne's mom was determined to protect her child from further harm and called the school that day and set up a meeting with Wayne's teacher.

Wayne's mother was shocked when the teacher blamed Wayne for what happened to him. The teacher said, “Well, Wayne has a way of annoying the other boys.” When Wayne's mom asked her to elaborate, the teacher said, “Wayne stares at them and refuses to speak to them when they ask him questions.” Wayne's mom tried to make the teacher understand that Wayne is a shy kid and that if he is under stress, he can get even quieter. Wayne's mom also told the teacher that she thought it was completely unacceptable that the boys physically assaulted her son. The teacher just shrugged and said, “Wayne should fight back.”

Wayne's mom set up another meeting with the principal and the teacher. At the meeting, the teacher proceeded to insult Wayne and suggest that Wayne was partly to blame for the bullying incidents. Amazingly, the principal sided with the teacher and recommended that Wayne's mom take Wayne to see a counselor, which she agreed to do, but she also pressed for information on how the school was going to protect Wayne from these three boys. The principal said he would talk to the boys and that they would keep an eye on the situation.

A week later, Wayne was still coming home upset and covered in bruises. The new bruises were even worse than the previous ones. Wayne told his mom that the boys were extra angry that he'd told. Wayne's mother went back to the teacher and the principal and showed them pictures of Wayne's injuries. She demanded that something be done to stop the boys who were assaulting her son. Again, Wayne's mom felt that she got nowhere with the school.

It can be frustrating when parents, who expect support and assistance in their bullying prevention efforts, are brushed off or given the it's-not-a-big-deal speech by educators. It is a big deal, and if your child is suffering, you must help him. Keep setting up meetings, keep pressing for action, write letters and e-mails, inform everyone who comes in contact with your child during the school day that he is being bullied, and document all of the bullying and all of your efforts to work with the school to prevent it. If, after all that, you are still not satisfied that the school is helping your child, you can file a formal complaint with the school system and/or the police.

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