How to Handle Meetings With The School If Your Child Is Being Bullied
Guest article by the UK’s first Children’s Happiness Coach, Simon Benn.
I’ve helped more than 1600 children understand how to be happy and what I’ve learned is that when it comes to bullying, parents are used to teachers taking the lead and taking care of what needs to be done.
However, many parents of bullied children have told me that when it comes to bullying, teachers don’t always take the lead in the way they’d like them too. We know most schools are under pressure so here are some tips for you on how to handle meetings with the school so you can get the best outcome for your child if they are being bullied.
- Before the meeting with the school
When you first discuss the issue of bullying with the school, agree a specific time and date for a meeting rather than just mentioning the bullying in passing. This signals to the school you are serious about resolving it and gives every time and space to think and address the situation properly.
Before going to the meeting, ask yourself: how do I need to think, feel and act to handle this meeting and stop the bullying?
Meetings about your child being bullied can be very emotional and even if you’re used to dealing with such challenging meetings you may still need to coach yourself through this.
Don’t go in all guns blazing, it won’t get you anywhere.
The teacher/head/official won’t believe you or take you as seriously. Remain open and adopt a firm but fair approach.
You don’t want them seeing you as an adversary.
Keep your eye on the ultimate objective – your child’s happiness. You can’t control what the school does or does not do. You can only influence it. You’ve got a far better chance of influencing them if you’ve got control of your emotions, putting all the negative stuff to one side for the good of your child, their happiness and your long-term sanity.
Read the school’s anti-bullying and any other relevant policies e.g. Equal Opportunities, Race Equality Policy, found on the website or school office.
Knowledge is power in this situation. The more you know the less likely the better equipped you’ll be for a rational conversation.
Hold the school to account through their own policies. Track how the issue has been addressed according to their own procedure. Make sure the teacher understands you’ve read the relevant school policies and are going to commit to resolving the issue.
This is vital information if you need to go above the Headteacher to the governors, LEA or Ofsted.
Before you go, plan what you’re going to say during the meeting
. This will help you calm your nerves. The calmer you are, the more likely you’re going to be able to influence the teacher to get what you want – the bullying stopped.
Teachers go into the profession because they care about children. A lot of them are jaded by being kicked by politicians, over-worked by bureaucracy and constant curriculum change. Some schools have better cultures than others. It starts from the top. I’ve heard lots of stories of teachers forced out, under huge stress to produce better results by stressed-out Heads worried about their jobs.
Teachers are human too. They might not know about the bullying and be shocked that it has happened. Or they may feel criticised/judged/attacked. Some people push back when under perceived pressure. They see things differently to you. They may not react how we expect. However, they will care about what’s happening, so don’t take any negative response personally.
Remember the teacher needs to believe you before s/he will take action. If your child is being bullied, you can help the teacher help you by showing evidence of the bullying. Share as much detail/evidence and changes noticed at home as possible to prove this is not just a one-off event or your child being over-sensitive.
Don’t expect the teacher to take the lead, that’s up to you. Be clear you want to work with the school to stop the bullying because you believe staff can prevent it.
Ask if there have been similar changes at school, e.g. less interest in activities, a dip in work, becoming withdrawn, making excuses to avoid certain areas of the school like the playground because that’s where the bullying happens. Focus on actions appropriate to the nature/type of bullying, ask the teacher what should be done. Take notes. Set a date/time for a second meeting to review events and the actions taken.
Follow up the meeting with a letter to confirm your understanding of the discussion and the actions you agreed would be taken and by what date. Keep a copy of the letter. Follow up on the agreed date to see what actions were taken and what the outcomes were.
If you are not satisfied with the response, take the issue higher. Keep going until the bully is resolved. Your child’s happiness is a stake.
Finally, and most importantly, talk to your child and tell them what happened so s/he can see your persistence and how much you care. Show them how much you love them, tell them you will get through this and that you will all be happier and more resilient when you come through it.
If your child is being bullied and you’d like more support, get in touch with me here: www.bully-proof.com