The New York Times yesterday (2/1/11) reported on an attack of a Philadelphia boy by 7 youths on the way home from school. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/us/02bully.html. The victim was beaten by a group and then left hanging from a high fence. Prior to that the boy had been kicked, dragged, punched, and placed upside down in a tree according to the author of the article, John Hurdle. Don't let this happen to your child.
I would suspect this was not the first situation involving these boys. For example, I bet:
1) There was a history of targeting the victim prior to this incident at school.
2) The school knew about the targeting and/or they knew about other incidents involving the attackers.
3) The school did nothing and/or did not do enough.
4) The parents did not ask the right questions of their son about what was going on at school, and/or they did not jump all over the situation to get the school to act.
FYI- never ever presume the schools ARE doing their jobs adequately. You must stay involved. Parents ALWAYS need to know what is going on to ensure the schools are doing what they are supposed to do. Kids usually will not report issues to school staff on their own and feel they have no power. If school officials don't notice something is going on, parents must step in. I have heard too many horror stories to believe otherwise.
Schools are under an obligation to take action when they know bullying or targeting is occurring. They may also punish the students involved (see California Education Code sections 48900(r) and 48900.4). However, I get calls weekly from parents whose kids are being targeted while the school ignores a known situation. Often the parents have verbally told the school, but the school has done nothing.
Here are my best suggestions of what to do to get action from the school and stop the bullying:
1) Talk to your kids every single day about what is going on at school. Really get into problems they are having and who the problems are with.
2) Go observe your children at school. Get advanced permission from the school. Then, sit and watch what is going on with your child from a distance.
3) If anything comes up in your discussions and/or observation involving repetitive taunting, pushing, etc. note this down. Keep a daily journal of what is going, where it happens, and who is involved.
4) If things are bad, and/or physical at all, send a letter to the school regarding what is going on. Ask for a meeting and action by the school.
5) Meet with the powers that be and develop a plan to stop the bullying. Bring a list of items you WANT put in place such as a shadow to follow your child, a meeting with the other kids' parents, daily email, etc. This list will be unique to each student, depending on the situation.
6) If they ignore you, send your letter to the Superintendent.
7) If things continue to occur, send DAILY LETTERS OUTLINING WHAT IS GOING ON. Paper trails are great for making people act.
8) You can also file a complaint in writing with the District, or could even go to your local grand jury to file a complaint if you are getting nowhere.
10) Pick up your child or walk them to/from school if possible.
11) Protect your kids. If the school and district are non-responsive, you must protect your child as a first action while you resolve the problems. This may mean transfer to another school, independent study, your supervision at school as needed, etc. Their safety is paramount. You do not want to have your son or daughter end up like the boy in Philadelphia who was beaten by a group of kids and left hanging from a fence.
12) Attorney involvement at any point can also help.
The school will control what they do in response to the bullying, but you can influence them by providing a list of what you think will solve the problem.
Don't neglect this. Parents must take control to the degree they can, or their child may be left hanging beaten from a fence or worse.
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814