Bullying is not a small offense. It is extremely harmful behavior that should not and cannot go unchecked. So finding out that your child is being bullied can be devastating news. You may feel helpless to protect your child. But there are several steps you can take to fight for their safety.
If Your Child is Being Bullied:
- Get the Full Story
- Gather Evidence
- Make a Written Report
- Meet With the School to Come Up With a Plan
- Offer support
- Speak to Other Parents
- Contact an Attorney
1. Get the Full Story
In a safe space, sit down with your child and ask them to tell you everything that has happened to them. This may be difficult for some children to express. For example, it may be best for younger kids to draw you a picture of what happened rather than verbally explaining it. Or older kids might have an easier time if they wrote it down in a letter.
Try to find something you know your child will be most comfortable with. Whatever method you use, be sure to record the conversation or keep any written documentation your child made. This will be important later when dealing with the other parties involved.
If your child is not quite ready to talk to you about the bullying, do your best not to push. Let them know that they can come to you when they’re ready, and consider finding other spaces that might make them feel more comfortable to share such as going on a hike, playing catch, or going to their favorite restaurant.
2. Gather Evidence
Use whatever information your child gives you to start gathering evidence. This might involve taking screenshots of text messages or social media posts. Also, if you notice any bruising, ripped clothes, or any other signs of a physical altercation, take pictures of everything you find.
Also, take note of any changes in appearance or mood that you noticed from your child before or after you found out they are being bullied.
3. Make a Written Report
Once you have spoken with your child and collected all the evidence, submit a written report of the bullying to your child’s school including their teacher and the school’s principal. Fortunately, several Illinois bullying laws require schools to have anti-bullying policies that specifically outline the procedures for investigating and reporting bullying.
If proper action hasn’t been taken within a few days of filing your report, write another letter escalating things to the principal and superintendent. Be sure to clearly and firmly request that immediate action be taken to stop the bullying and protect your child.
4. Meet With the School to Come Up With a Plan
Do your best to make time to meet with the school in person to come up with a clear and actionable plan to stop the bullying. If appropriate, see if you can meet with the parents or guardians of the child that is bullying your child. Do your best to focus on your child and their needs.
Once a plan is made, follow up. Check in with your child to see if the bullying has stopped and ask them to be honest about any retaliation or continued abuse. Make sure the school is holding up to its end of protecting your child and keeping students safe from physical and emotional abuse.
5. Offer Support
As hard as this time may be for you, it’s harder for your child. Many children and teens who are bullied experience feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, or confusion. Ask if they would be willing to share how they are feeling and if they might have had any thoughts of hurting themselves due to the bullying.
Consider finding a therapist they can talk to, especially if there are signs of suicide ideation or self-harm. Especially for teens, it may be easier to open up to someone who is not their parent.
** If you or someone you know is feeling helpless, hopeless, or thinking of suicide, CALL or TEXT 988 any time for support.
6. Speak to Other Parents
If you feel that the school should be doing more to stop the harassment happening to your child, consider seeing if the bully is also harassing other students and encourage their parents to also submit a written report to school officials if they haven’t already. Chances are, if more parents are getting vocal about what is happening, the school may be more motivated to find a solution.
7. Contact an Attorney
And finally, if all your efforts do not seem to be enough to stop your child from being bullied or if the bullying is particularly severe, it may be time to reach out to an attorney. A bullying lawyer would be able to help you submit a written report if you are worried about the school’s response. An experienced lawyer would also be able to help you understand your child’s rights and protections covered by Illinois bullying laws and policies.
At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyer, we are on a mission to combat bullying in Illinois. We can help you navigate the legal maze of bullying, advise if claims should be filed against any negligent parties, and if the matter should be brought to the police.
If your child is being bullied, contact us today for a FREE consult. Call (312) 600-6000.