Dear Your Teen:
A student in my class says he is being bullied at school but he won’t elaborate with any details – who, when, where. The parent is blaming the school. What can I do, as a teacher, about school bullying?
When students make reports of school bullying, but refuse to elaborate, it is often an issue of fear of retaliation by the student who bullies. If parents or teachers want to know how to stop bullying in schools, one educator recommends the steps below as starter’s guide.
How To Help School Bullying
Document every interaction you have with the student regarding reports of bullying behavior. It is critical that you note both what the student said and the questions you asked, so that you have a record of your efforts to protect the child if you are confronted by the parent.
Reassure the student that you will support and work to protect him should he report the details of the bullying to you. Provide options other than the student reporting the information to you face to face. Encourage the student to e-mail you, leave a message on your voicemail, or write a note. Sometimes these suggestions are enough to get a student to open up to you.
Interview, discreetly, the friends of the student who is being bullied. More often than not, they will know the details of what is occurring and will share those facts willingly. Corroboration is valuable here as it will help you assess the student who is being bullied’s claims and gain a better understanding of the situation.
Professional counseling may be needed. If you are at an impasse, and the parent also cannot encourage the child to discuss the issue with you, the next logical step is a recommendation for professional counseling.
Jason Culp is the Head of Upper School, at Lawrence School in Cleveland, Ohio.