As a parent it can be really difficult to see your child experiencing bullying behaviors. Often times parents feel helpless and working with schools can feel frustrating. Fortunately, the state of Iowa has laws protecting your child, and Iowa Safe Schools can help you navigate them to work with your child’s school to ensure that it is a safe and welcoming environment.
Here are some simple do’s and don’ts for helping your child if they are being bullied:
- Listen to what they are saying and make sure they know you are taking it seriously. Sometimes students will just want to vent about a bad day, but other times there are serious issues going on. When students know that their concerns are being taken seriously, they are more likely to be honest about what is going on.
- Keep a record of what your child is reporting to you. When students experience bullying behaviors, they often forget the smaller details and focus on what was said or done to them. It can become internalized, and having your record to supplement theirs can help schools when the investigate reports of bullying behavior.
- Report bullying behavior to your child’s school. Letting administrators and teachers know that you are aware of the situation can be a huge help. Sometimes bullying happens out of earshot or eyesight of teachers, so they may be unaware that anything at all is happening.
- Know your child’s rights. The Iowa Anti-Bullying Law (Iowa Code 280.28) specifically outlines all of the 17 protected classes as well as the conditions that must be met to constitute actions and behaviors as bullying.
- Ignore a situation as ‘just drama’. Many situations are more interpersonal conflict, but that can lead to bullying. Make sure your child knows you take all of these situations seriously.
- Expect overnight results. Schools must follow a process in investigating reports of bullying, which can be frustrating. Do know that you have a right to know that an investigation is taking place and what the result of that investigation is.
- Try to resolve bullying situations on your own. In the schools, the teachers and administrators can help resolve these issues by using safety plans for both your child and the student exhibiting bullying behaviors.
Below are some other resources to help you:
- The Iowa Department of Education’s website. This site explains what bullying is and offers more in-depth strategies for working with your child’s school to end the bullying they are experiencing.
- This worksheet to help you report bullying behavior.
- Check your child’s school’s handbook. All schools should have an Anti-Bullying and Anti-Harassment policy. There should be instructions for the process of reporting bullying there.