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Working constructively with parents

Educators have a legal and ethical responsibility to support children/youth who are targets of bullying. These children's parents have the right to speak with you if they believe their child is being bullied at school and to expect that you will protect their child. The following are guidelines for working constructively with parents to address and prevent bullying. Except in justified cases, do not involve parents of targeted children and parents of bullies to resolve the problem together.

With parents of targeted students
With parents of bullies

Recognize that parents are generally anxious and under a lot of stress.

Do not become defensive if parents express anger towards you or the school. Bullying takes a serious toll on targeted children and their families. Remain understanding of the parents' concerns and feelings.

Make it clear that you take the incident seriously, that you care about the child's safety and that you will do what you can to prevent further incidents.

Try to get the facts the parents provide as clear as possible, but don't grill the parents or focus on inconsistencies in their version of events.

If necessary, tell the parents that you will need time to investigate the matter yourself. Tell the parents when you will contact them and make sure you follow through. There may be some situations when a child's safety is severely threatened. In these cases, you need to take action immediately. Work with parents to do so as appropriate.

Explain the school's or district's policy on bullying and/or sexual harassment and reiterate the readiness of the school to take action against bullying and/or sexual harassment.

Keep lines of communication open.

Make sure you have as much reliable information about the event prior to the meeting.

Share your concerns about what's been happening to the targeted student. That is the primary reason of the meeting. Do not blame the targeted student for the attack in any way.

Emphasize that the problem is with their child's behavior, not their child's character. Do identify some positive behaviors their child has shown.

Be understanding but firm.

Explain the school's/district's policy on bullying and/or sexual harassment and reiterate the readiness of the school to take action against bullying and/or sexual harassment.

To further prepare for talking with parents, complete the tool for Working with parents to respond to and prevent bullying before and after the meetings.