With a new school year starting, BRRC asked the Director of Advocacy, Tom Ahlborg, to share his experience about laying the groundwork for advocating and defending a bullied child. Tom has worked with many families across the state helping to educate parents and school officials about bullying, discuss alternatives that work for individual families, and help advocate for bullying targets. Here are his recommendations:
DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT
I believe that many administrators are inherently good and will do their utmost to STOP bullying. HOWEVER, too many administrators, teachers, counselors, and staff don’t or just fail to STOP bullying.
When it comes to getting called out for poor performance on their job by not STOPPING the bullying, administrators, unfortunately, just like many people these days, will LIE to stay out of trouble. Therefore, it is so important to DOCUMENT everything from the start when it comes to reporting and communicating with administrators / teachers about bullying.
REPORTING AND COMMUNICATING
When reporting, email is the best option unless your school has specific forms to report bullying. Reporting via email creates a chain of documented conversations with the school and administration. Further, should you have a conversation with teachers and administrators (see below) where plans and promises are made, it is crucial to document the meeting with a follow-up email stating what was discussed, planned, timelines and what was promised. The email you send should request an email from the Administration requesting agreement.
Note: If your school has handwritten forms or on-line forms, make sure to get a copy/picture of the form before delivering it to Administrators.
In Colorado and other states, individuals are allowed to record conversations that they are a partaking in. In Colorado, the law allows you to record all conversations that you are involved in without notifying the other party that you are recording. This is an instrumental tool in advocating for a bullied child. Multiple times I have caught administrators in a lie from these recordings and used it in my pursuit in advocating for a bullied child.
Many parents BRRC has worked with started out trusting the school (teachers/Administrators/Principal). Many times, parents are told it will be handled, the other children have been spoken with, their parents have been notified, and/or that the instigators have received some sort of consequence. Many times, this is NOT the case. From my experience as an advocate, it may be a mistake to take the administrator at their word. If the bullying continues keep reporting it and use the suggestions I have suggested. If the school does not properly investigate and deal with the bullying, it is almost certain it will continue. BRRC is here to help. If you feel that the school is not addressing the bullying, please contact us and one of our advocates can work with you to properly advocate for your child.
No child deserves to be bullied.