THREE TOP TIPS
Tip #1: Don’t demand that the school stop your child from being bullied.
Do you have a child who’s being bullied in school? If so, you may be demanding from the school that it put a stop to the bullying. After all, that’s what parents have been taught to do for two decades by the educational and psychological authorities, who have declared that children have a right to go to school without being bullied. Not only that, but laws have also been passed placing responsibility for putting a stop to bullying in the school’s lap. If you want to help your child, don’t put the onus on the school for solving the problem. Doing so is almost guaranteed to make the situation worse! And it wouldn’t be the school’s fault, either. They can be making their sincerest effort to help your child and still be getting the opposite of what they are hoping for. The truth is there is no good reason to believe that schools have the power to make children stop bullying each other. Research has shown that even with the most intensive and highly regarded bullying prevention programs, and even with the most effective state anti-bullying laws, the overwhelming majority of bullied children will continue to be bullied. Even worse, research shows that the more often students turn to the school for help with bullying, the more severely they are likely to be bullied!
Furthermore, if you have two or more children of your own, there is a good chance that they torment each other daily and that all your efforts to make them stop aren’t working. Kids get bullied far more frequently and intensely by their siblings at home than by their fellow students in school. If parents can’t get a couple of their own children to stop bullying each other, how can they expect a school to make hundreds of children stop doing it? That is not to say that the school can never help. Sometimes the school can solve the problem, especially if the bullying situation has not become highly charged, and if the school has an enlightened approach to dealing with hostility among students. However, today schools are required by law to treat every complaint of bullying as a potential crime. They need to conduct investigations, inform parents of all children involved, pass judgment and punish and/or rehabilitate the bullies. As soon as the school begins that process, tension and hostilities skyrocket. No one wants to be blamed for wrongdoing, so each party tries to prove they are innocent and the other is guilty. This law enforcement process makes them hate each other and the indicted side hates the school, too.
So what should you do? See Tip #3.
Tip #2: Don’t even think of suing your child’s school.
If your child has been bullied for a long time despite your repeated complaints to the school, you may be considering legal action. Bullying lawsuits against schools have become increasingly mainstream, and you may have heard experts recommending them if all else fails. The best thing you can do is put the thought of a lawsuit out of your mind right away. If you and your child have been suffering until now, your current situation will seem like a vacation once you file a lawsuit. The following are some of the things you can expect to happen:
Unless you can find a lawyer to take your case pro bono or on contingency, you will spend considerable amounts of money.
The school and district will get their lawyers to fight you. In the process, they will try to make you look like the bad guys, looking for dirt on your family and blaming the bullying on your deficient parenting.
You and your family will lose many nights of sleep and be anxiety-ridden in the daytime. As a result, your health and marriage may suffer.
Any goodwill you may have had among school staff will disappear, for you have declared war against them. The specific staff members you will be implicating will be especially angry with you and will try to turn others against you, too.
Many people who used to be your friends may now avoid you because they don’t want to be seen associating with the people attacking their school community.
Your child’s social situation will severely deteriorate, as the accused bullies will look for ways to get even. Your child will earn a reputation as a snitch- a social death sentence. You may need to take your child out of school.
If you send your child to a different school, you may discover that he becomes a victim of bullying there as well. One reason is your child may respond to hostility in the new school the same way they did in the old school, unwittingly encouraging the bullying. After all, it is not uncommon for certain kids to be bullied in every school they go to. Secondly, if the students know about the lawsuit it may be cause for intensified bullying of your child. Now you may contemplate suing the new school, too. There are, indeed, parents who have sued more than one of their child’s schools.
The staff of the new school will probably know about your lawsuit against the previous school, so they will be apprehensive of you, seeing you as people who cause problems. They will treat you differently from everyone else, and may unwittingly create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To protect your child from bullying, you may decide that homeschooling is your only option. This is likely to put additional stress on your family, especially if you need to give up a job in order to teach at home. Teaching is not an easy job, and if you choose to do it under duress, the dynamic at home may in fact worsen. In the effort to end your child's victimization at school, you may create a victim at home.
In the unlikely event you actually win the lawsuit and get a monetary award, it won’t come from the pockets of the school administrators or the parents of the children that tormented your child. It will come from taxpayer money. In other words, the rest of us will have paid. Will such knowledge comfort you?
In the even more unlikely event that you win a large monetary award, in the hundreds of thousands– or even millions– of dollars, you may feel too ashamed to keep it for yourself. You want people to know you sued the school out of principle, not profit. So, you may choose to donate the money to an anti-bullying organization, or perhaps even to set up your own organization. Unfortunately, by-and-large, anti-bullying organizations unwittingly intensify the bullying problem by promoting a victim mentality, so you will not only have squandered the money, you will have caused more children to suffer from bullying.
After your victory, you and your child will still be clueless as to what caused the bullying in the first place or how to prevent it in the future. In fact, your child is likely to bear the self-image and behavior of an unfortunate and bitter victim of bullying for the rest of their life. There are people, though, who are indeed likely to benefit from your lawsuit against the school: lawyers. They have been given another source of income thanks to anti-bullying laws..
Tip #3: Educate your children to not be victims.
If you would like to help your children not only for the present but for the rest of their lives, make sure they learn how not to be victims. People who possess this knowledge do not get bullied. And think about it: What do you prefer for your children–that they require others to protect them from bullying, or that they are capable of handling it on their own?
It’s a no-brainer.
Bullying goes on throughout the lifetime. In fact, the place it happens the least–though it is the place that gets the most of our attention–in is school. It happens even more in the workplace, and even that is surpassed by bullying within the home. People who acquire the knowledge to handle bullying will not only be happier and have more successful school experiences, they will have the foundation for better relationships as adults at work and in the home. It is much easier to teach children how not to be victims than to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. What is needed is a good method. This website will provide access to the knowledge and techniques needed, based largely on, but not necessarily limited to, the work of Izzy Kalman.
It is also important to realize that there is room for protecting children from bullying. First of all, if adults witness children being cruel to others, of course, they must put a stop to it. Secondly, not all children are capable of learning to handle bullying on their own. This can be due to the intellectual, neurological or psychological deficits or conditions that prevent them from being able to understand or implement the needed concepts and behaviors. Such children need active protection. However, even when providing them with protection, it is necessary to do so in ways that reduce the problem rather than exacerbate it. If the school treats the children bothering your child like criminals, the problem is almost certain to intensify.
Good luck on the journey to independence and resilience!