And How Can You Preserve Evidence If The School Can’t Or Won’t Help?
How to make collecting and storing evidence easier and keep your information in one place:
- Set up a separate email address that will only be used to forward communication with the school, teachers, and a place you can personally document and save recordings made by emailing them to yourself (the purpose of this is to maintain date and timestamps of your incidents and to create a journal)
- Use your email as a journal that you can make notes in that will be date and timestamped
You’ve identified that there is a problem and now you need be proactive:
- Talk to your child and know what’s going on.
- Get the specifics such as:
- The name of the bully;
- The actions or words the bully is using;
- The location or class period the bullying is occurring;
- The teachers name who witnessed the bullying;
- Has your child told a teacher; and,
- What action has been taken to prevent the bullying if any.
- Listen. Some kids can be long-winded, and their stories can lack continuity, but let them tell it. After all, it’s their story – so let them go on. Listen, engage, and learn
Helpful tips for effectively communicating with your child about bullying
- Above all, detach emotionally. Staying calm will help you gather the information you need. Be as nonjudgmental as possible. There won’t be a reason to hold back if your child senses that you won’t accuse her of starting the bullying, won’t punish her for fighting back, or won’t ask her, “What did you do to get her angry at you?”
- Use open-ended questions. If you use a question that begins with why, you are setting up a confrontational climate that will cause your child to be defensive.
- Don’t use yes-or-no questions – they won’t get you much of a response. Use questions that will stimulate conversation between you and your child. “What did you notice about Sophia today at the party?” works better than “Do you like Sophia?”
- Reflect back on what you’re hearing: “Oh, you don’t like the way Sophia played with you.” Then you can add, “How did she play?” “What feelings do you have about her?” This will give you even more information.
- Don’t try too hard to get your child to talk. The harder you try, the more he’ll resist you. When you relax the pressure a bit, he’ll sense it and be more ready to talk to you.
- Remember that it may take more than one conversation to get the full story. Your child may feel like telling you only so much the first time through. A second conversation when both of you are refreshed gives you a chance to think of follow-up questions that will elicit more information.
Talk to your child where they feel comfortable
- Try using the car as your “office.” You’re in a small space with no distractions, and it’s already a place where your child has spent many hours with you before.
- Get involved in a physical activity that your child enjoys. Playing a game of catch, riding a bike, or shooting baskets loosens the endorphins and could be the key to setting a relaxing tone for your child to get talking.
- Talk with her while she is coloring, working on a puzzle, or playing with a dollhouse or a favorite toy. When you use these times to allow your child to express herself, she is more likely to express herself to you as well. When you get down on the floor with your child, join her in the activity, and let her talk, there’s a lot you can find out.
- Slow down and be available. As parents, it’s not unusual for us to miss what’s going on in our children’s lives because of the hectic pace of our own. If you’re not available, your child will turn to alternative means to deal with the frustration and hurt of being bullied. Many of these alternatives – self-medication, to name one – may compound the problem. You need to be there when your child needs you the most.
Understand the new laws and how they apply to your childs current situation
- Review the Texas State Safety Center.
- Watch the video about David’s Law (the new law in Texas for bullying)
- Download the bullying checklist and download the pdf and print it out. You can also email it to the dedicated email address you’ve created for all bully-related issues. It is going to become very important as we continue.
Using technology to protect your child against bullying
- Buy your child a wrist watch recording device
- Most smart watches that pair with a phone have an app for recording; however, there are less expensive options
- Teach your child how to record and practice with them
- Have your child record interactions with the bully and at the end of the day ask your child how things went.
What to do with the evidence you have now collected
- Once again fill out the checklist, this time using the recording to determine if the behavior is classified as bullying under the new state law.
- Use names and dates as done on the first one<./li>
- Then download, save, and EMAIL a copy of any recording your child made with their bully to yourself, along with a copy of the additional checklist you created, and a brief description of the incident.
- Be proactive as a parent and schedule a meeting with the teacher, bring your checklists and your recordings to play for the teacher.
How to handle the parent teacher meeting
- Make an audio recording of the meeting with the teacher asking the questions below, Email a copy of that recording to your new email account.
- Ask if she ever suspected that your child was being bullied. If she answers yes, then ask when she noticed it, what she noticed, and where it was happening.
- Then ask, “Can you let me know if this happens again?”
- Follow this with the question, “What did you do to stop the bullying?”
- Tell the teacher what your child described. This is where you use the script you developed from your conversations with your child.
- Ask the teacher if she noticed what your child described to you. If she says yes, ask what she did to stop it.
- Ask the teacher to tell you what will happen next. Get an action plan. What will the teacher do if the bully continues this behavior with your child in the future.
The follow up with the teacher
- Follow up your meeting with the teacher with an email reply from the original request for the meeting (try to keep correspondence for each incident in one email chain as it will make your life easier later)
- Starting the email with: “As per our discussion on [date and time]” these actions were discussed [add your own details], please keep me informed of the action taken such as: where the other child’s parents notified, was the bully moved away from my child, was my child moved from the bully, and is there any noticeable difference in the interaction between [your student] and [the bullying student].
- If the teacher disciplines the bullying student and the bullying stops, problem solved and you should send a thank you email to the teacher commending them on their effectiveness in helping your child and preventing bullying.
What to do if the teacher can’t or won’t stop the bullying
- If the teacher does not take action and the bullying continues, forward a copy of the follow up email, with the response from the teacher, as well as the attachments from the email with the teacher documenting the bullying, and ask for a meeting with the principal (do not add audio of the meeting with the teacher).
- Make an audio recording of the meeting with the principal, and send the follow up email just as you did with the teacher (make sure to forward to all communication to your new email)
If you are unable to get results from the school don’t give up!
- If your principal does not find a resolution that stops bullying as outlined in the new law called David’s Law, don’t lose faith. The state of Texas has set up an alternative to seek appropriate justice for your child if you have taken all of the necessary steps to handle bullying with the school, but have not had success.
- Remember, this is the reason you need your evidence. The school district does not work like a court of law, and the justice system needs actual evidence, and rules of evidence will apply.
Now that you have exausted all efforts at the school level with no avail
- If there are acts of violence at any time, you can always call the Sheriff’s Department and ask to file charges, which if accepted, would be handled by the District Attorney’s Office.
- You can also file formal reports for cyber bullying with the District Attorney to request a restraining order.
- If the District Attorney’s Office, after hearing and seeing your evidence, feels a restraining or protective order is necessary for your child’s safety, that is a free service to your child as the victim
- Please remember that the Katy ISD Police Department is not the same as the Harris County Sheriff’s Department or the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Finally, here is another great resources to help parents address bullying:
“The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. We’ve sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. The power of our work lies in the participation of individuals like you and the remarkable list of partners we’ve gathered who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities. Our goal is to reach 10 million kids or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America”
Click here to visit The BULLY Project