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Bullying, Discipline, & Confidentiality: Who’s the Victim?

by Wrightslaw

A special education teacher asked a question about a student’s right to confidentiality after being disciplined by the school.

It is a good example of how changing the facts in a particular situation can give you a clearer perspective on the issue.

“…a child with disabilities was a victim of bullies. How much is too much information to share with another parent regarding other students..before turning the bullies into victims?”

Here’s the complete scenario:

We had a situation this year with a child with disabilities who was a victim of bullies. The bullies faced consequences including parents being called.

The parent of the child with disabilities wanted to know who the bullies were, what consequences were given, and what the meeting entailed with the parents of the bullies. Is this allowed? It felt like the bullies were now being turned into victims.

We have a clear and zero policy in our school regarding bullies. I was satisfied with the consequences given. How much is too much information to share with another parent regarding other students?

Let’s change the facts in this case. The child with disabilities who was bullied is your child. What’s your perspective, now?

  • It is your child who attended a summer camp and was severely beaten up and hospitalized by another camper.

Camp officials decline to release info about the aggressor and what steps, if any, were taken.

What is your position as the parent?

Change the facts again:

  • Your child attends a private school and was assaulted by another child at the school and is now in the hospital.

You want to press charges against the aggressor, but the private school cites confidentiality and refuses to release any information about the aggressor, including his identity.

Change the facts again:

  • Your child was assaulted at the local mall and local mall security were involved.

Should you be notified?

In those scenarios and with a public school, when any entity refuses to release information to a parent, what does the parent automatically assume? They assume that the other child is being protected, despite being the bully.

Parents have a right to know who did what to their child and what steps, if any, the school took to prevent a repetition of it. Anything less is viewed as a cover-up and opens school up to the appearance of a policy of “doing nothing” to protect children from bullies.

In Bullying, Confidentiality, & the Parents’ Need to Know, Pete and Pam answer questions about confidentiality and the parents’ need to have information about their child. Pam suggests a strategy to help the teacher understand the parent’s perceptions, concerns, and fears.

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92 Comments on "Bullying, Discipline, & Confidentiality: Who’s the Victim?"


My son has ADHD and has had an ongoing problem with 3 students at his school. This same thing has happend where I have asked what has been done and the school is telling me because of confidentiality they cannot tell me if the children have been suspended or what other actions have been taken. I have gone in to the school 3 times so far. AND it always seems like when an incident happens, just so happens the teacher “has her back turned” and doesn’t see what happened. Also, one of the children my son has had problems with told the teacher my son said a cuss word….teacher didn’t hear him (of course her back was turned) but my son still got suspended. Another indident that happened with this child was when he told another child to “smack the white” off of my child. If MY child had made a comment regarding the other child’s color, again he would have been suspended. I just don’t understand why these children are being protected. I am confused with this process. There is a lot more to this.


My son is handicapped and attends highschool. He was bullied for the past 6 months. The principal was made aware in December. The school said they would look into it. Wednesday my son was threatened, so he wrote a threat back to the boy on the wall. He’s suspended. The cop threatened my son with felony charges, juvy and other stuff. Is that legal? I have a meeting on Friday. The cop was intent on threatening my son but not the bully. What can I do?

La Quitta

I am attempting to get my child’s disciplinary record from a previous school district. They failed to forward the records to the new school, but now they are telling me that they won’t give me the disciplinary records, can they do that? The current district didn’t have a problem giving them to us, and it’s extremely important because he is having a psychiatric evaluation and his history of discipline will help they psychiatrist in his evaluation. Again, can a school refuse to release our sons disciplinary records to us?


My son is in a wheelchair. Went to the school, and told the school, but basically the principal is saying he doesn’t believe my son. He doesn’t think the other boy is doing anything. So what do I do?


EVERYONE PLEASE! ! If your child has been threatened or harmed physically email or call the school district and tell them your complaint on the school and that your child doesn’t feel safe! PLEASE also call police and try to file charges. What is the worst thing they will tell you, no? Fight for your children fight! I waited and my child paid because of it. Its never too late but please stand up for your kids. If this was a workplace people wouldn’t have to put up with it. WHY SHOULD OUR CHILDREN have to? Bullies need to know that they can’t get away with this. PLEASE help your children.