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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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89 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lesley 03/02/15 at 5:12 pm

    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?

  • 2 Sand 03/01/15 at 10:16 am

    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.

  • 3 Connie 02/24/15 at 5:05 pm

    My 8yr old daughter has been being bullied by her classmates they are all part of the special day class. Yesterday 3 of the boys held her down & started to choke her then when she called for help they covered her mouth. This all happen on the playground. I spoke with the principal & once again all she said is that they speak with the parents & try to keep them apart! Nobody called us either. I found about 3 hours later. What more has to happened to my daughter before anyone does something?? They’ve already punched her several times before now they’re holding her down, covering her mouth & choking her. I don’t know what to do anymore. She’s is afraid to go to school. Every time something happens between my daughter & them it seems to more & more aggressive. My husband & I are worry shell ended up in the hospital next time.

  • 4 lupe 02/18/15 at 7:22 pm

    My daughter is on special ed. she was being bullied at school. he reported several times, the school ignored. She was physically assaulted by other student. I was never notified, went to school to ask for video. They refuse to show it to me. Personal emails from the pshycology was exposed on from a whole class on a projector. How long legally do I have to file charges on that school?

  • 5 Jackie 01/28/15 at 7:33 pm

    Do you deal with Special Ed. only? I hope this is not the case. This concerns a regular good kid and student almost in your backyard.

  • 6 Sirmedra 01/28/15 at 2:23 am

    My 12 yr old son was attacked by a 18 yr 10 th grader. The school has since gave my son 45 days in the alternative to school. Policy states 5 days for a fight. They said that since my niece and nephew getting involved was a gang and my son should have not have defended himself.

  • 7 Nancy 01/13/15 at 10:40 am

    Just wondering. My 2 sons are bullied on their bus ride home. The kid would tell my boys to say bad words, and or he would cough in their faces and such. I told my sons to ignore him and don’t say those bad words even if the kid is telling them to. So this past week they stood up by saying NO, but now the kid got physical and put his hands around my sons neck and was telling them, say it say it.. the bad word. Still my kids said no. So then he said he was going to kill them, bring a knife on the bus with him and such. I called the principal right away and was only told she would look into it and request the video from the bus. Do I have the right to watch it and see what happened? My kids wouldn’t lie. Can I request the kids name? And what they plan on doing? Can I request that he no longer rides this bus?

  • 8 Nora 01/12/15 at 12:46 pm

    Why there are not more laws that can protect our kids from the teachers that are bullying our kids. My son was to a point of asking us for sleeping pills because his special education teacher was bullying and threatened him. The school and District didn’t do anything so we removed our son from the teacher. Why there is no punishment for those teachers?

  • 9 kim 01/11/15 at 12:58 am

    My daughter was being bullied the 2nd day of school. A boy threatened to kill her and he sent a picture of himself to her without a shirt. After she contacted administration the boy accused her of bullying him. In front of the boy without my knowledge they made my daughter sign a contract that said she would behave better in the future. The principal told my daughter that the paper she signed would protect her. The bullying did not stop. then his friends that are girls are harassing my daughter, spreading rumors that my daughter cuts herself. The principal came to my house uninvited-I was not home. They believe the bullies again. My daughter is now having anxiety attacks and sees a therapist. The police were involved and they told me I should be a better parent. I was told by the school…I have no parent rights once I leave my child at school.

  • 10 Tammy 12/30/14 at 10:53 pm

    I have a 13 year old grandson that was punched in the face at school. we have just found out that both sides of his jaw is broken and they are going to have to wire it shut. this is not the first time for this kid that did this. what and who can I get to help us in this case?

  • 11 Jackie 12/23/14 at 2:10 am

    12Christy I did something similar to what you did. I was very quiet and knew the layout of the school well, so I acted like a spy escaping the teachers who were upset with me for no good reason.

    I’ve learned schools now call bullies emotionally disturbed and claim they are disabled. Every child has the right to an education, even sociopaths who will do nothing with it. Students should be able to get cops involved if the school does nothing. It took me 20 years to stop blaming myself as my school victim blamed me saying I made myself a target. A student should be able to say no and have it respected an heard. No student should be threatened with punishment or blamed by teachers for being a victim. Our schools are not safe as long as being a bully is considered a disability.

  • 12 Rogers 10/08/14 at 4:38 pm

    We live outside of Houston, TX. My son was stabbed in the back by a student with scissors. The school nurse contacted me of the incident. The boy has been attacking my son all year. We requested for the attacker to be removed from the classroom but they want my son to be removed. In this same school district our older son was choked by a teacher. We called the Police and their investigation was she had no prior incidences. We also called ISD police, arrived today and made a report but I feel that this school district has a racism for black children. We need your help and fast.

  • 13 RLC 09/23/14 at 6:14 pm

    My ADHD son was assaulted by a special education teacher on May 2,2014. He had multiple fingerprint bruises on his back and sides. I was never called and it was not reported to police or CPS by the school. I did both immediately! The teacher resigned in July. Unfortunately, charges against him were “no billed” by the Grand Jury, even though he opening admitted to causing the bruises on my child. So, this teacher gets away with seriously harming my child? This can’t be seriously happening!!!

  • 14 caroline 07/05/14 at 9:17 pm

    I think that when a crime is committed the criminal, regardless of age and location forfeits confidentiality. With maybe exemption or rather consideration of the circumstances, ex. Kids has had been bullied by the “victim” and possibly “snapped”. By the way regardless of confidentiality policy when a crime is committed that goes out the window, even quicker when the child has to go to the hospital to be treated. I’m not talking about a bruise or scratch , however if those are or become chronic should also be considered a hard crime and just as bad. My son has adhd and he has been bullied and has also bully other kids out of frustration and as a consequence of his adhd. So I do understand both sides. I’ve been in school to be told what my son had done and to see his legs full of bruises. Stop protecting criminals, it stops NOW!

  • 15 rainieb 06/13/14 at 7:40 pm

    my daughter currently has a 504 plan for an anxiety disorder. In March she told us that she was bullied by verbal abuse. This included name calling and harassment in the hallways. When she would go to math class (intro to algebra) she had elevated levels of anxiety, along with recurring thoughts about the insults. After almost a whole year of school, she lost vital classroom instruction, and was blamed for failing and not going in for extra help. We told the school about the bullying and even told them she failed in spite of the tutors. They did not care of the circumstances and could not do anything about the bullying because my daughter is refusing to give names, she only gave lunch tables. I have been asking the school for two years for an IEP, but they refused. now everyone is celebrating and my daughter has to go to summer school.

  • 16 Nicole 04/24/14 at 12:10 pm

    My 9 year old daughter was attacked on the school bus yesterday. Apparently, I am not allowed to know WHO they are, or HOW they will be disciplined. This privacy law needs to change. I can partially understand withholding names…but why on earth am I NOT allowed to know how these kids were disciplined?

  • 17 linda 04/07/14 at 6:52 am

    My child talked in class & yelled at by the teacher in the class, hallway & not taken to the office as students in general education, but is taken outside the Special Ed. office. Teacher pulls case manager out & complains about student & calls her a jerk. Student has never been in trouble in the class. I am told she is treated differently because she is in S.E., but has no behavioral issues per teachers or indicated in her IEP. She is treated differently because of both disability & race? What laws pertain to this? A routine parent teacher/adm. meeting was set up. Teacher brought Union Rep.(atypical) & without parent consent & has no relevance to my child & is not known to parent & refuses to leave or state y he is there. Is this a violation of privacy confidentiality &harassment? She was bullied & staff told her of the meeting. Help!

  • 18 Kay 03/13/14 at 11:36 am


    My son is 15 and he was attending a drivers education class at the local High school. He does not attend this school, that is where the classes were being held. While waiting for the instructor to come int ot he class he was attacked by another student who was a student at that particular school. He has been bullied in the public school system since elementary and he is very quiet as not to draw attention to himself now. The other student attacked him and he defended himself. No one was seriously injured but now the school that he went to for the drivers education has kicked him out of the class and the deputy that was at the school is filing a juvenile petition against my son. I feel helpless in this situation. I want to know how I can fight for my son who has been a victim of bullies for years.

  • 19 Schennia 11/26/13 at 2:44 pm

    my son was recently injured at school. No one knew anything and we weren’t called. I addressed my concerns through e-mail and a followup IEP meeting. During the meeting I was told that my son had bitten 2 or 3 adults prior to. Supposedly, he bit one person so bad their skin broke and they had to go to the doctor for a tetanus shot! Yet, I was never told! When I asked for the specifics (names and what happened) I was told I could not have the information due to HIPPA laws. But I was given the dates these incidents occurred. However, I keep just about all of my sons daily reports. On two of the days in question, my son had “great” and “very good” days. Notes were written at the bottom of each report but did not suggest that any biting occurred. So my question is, can the school deny me this information? And is there such a HIPPA law?

  • 20 Rachel 05/09/13 at 4:41 pm

    What about when I asked to view the video that the principal said they have of my son but won’t show me and my son said its because they deleted it and my son was expelled 9 days, long-term/expulsion has been put on hold due to my withdrawing my son. Is this allowed?

  • 21 Joanie 04/21/13 at 9:35 pm

    My son has had problems at his school. Last year he was beat in the face while others were watching! After that there were threats on facebook from others we took it all to School the Assistant principle said he didn’t think it was serious we came home and saw more stuff and this time went to the Principle and he put a stop to it!! This year he has had a boy threating him and he goes to the office and tells them they do nothing ! Well last Friday he and his girlfriend were sitting in the Library at School and the one that beat him up last year and the one that’s messing with him this year the one came by him and handed him something and said hold this don’t tell anyone when he looked down and saw it he turned to hand it back to him and he was gone the other boy went out and right after that the principle came in it had Marijuna in it! They did nothing to the other boys they said they couldn’t prove anything but now my son and his girlfriend are at an Alternative School!! If they are in special ed do they have any options on what Schools they want to go to. I had gotten a letter one time that said they could go to a different one because the special Ed. at this one wasn’t up to par or something!

  • 22 Latrisha 12/08/12 at 11:35 am

    Hello yesturday I got a call from our school stating the my 7 year old son was attacked by another fellow student. He was punched in the face and knocked to the ground and kicked in the face/repeatedly kicked in the back. The school has it on security video. The School Recsourse officer was involved as well. I was told that they could not tell me anything other than what the child did to mine and that this will never happen again. I am at a loss of what to do. What are my sons rights? What are my rights as a parent? Please help.

  • 23 Christy 11/15/12 at 1:55 am

    I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I am bipolar. I was harassed by not only the kids at school, but by the teachers as well. I remember one day I got put into ISS (In School Suspension) and I didn’t want to be there so I hid in the girls bathroom, but I left my bag on accident in the classroom and the teachers told me that they will take my bag if I don’t come out of the bathroom, knowing that i would try and get my bag from them. Plus, one of the counselors decided to take my head phones from me and break them then tell my parents that he didn’t and that they are in his office, because I wasn’t allowed to have my IPOD out during school hours even though music was the only thing that calmed me. Do I need to say any more?

  • 24 angry parent 07/06/12 at 3:13 pm

    My child is a minority, and was bullied and harassed for over five years; every year became worse. The school assured that the other parents were involved and it was taken care of. Finally things came to a head in the Spring of this year in which this kid scratched a chunk out of my childs face. This kid was taunting my child on a daily basis. The school staff reported to me that my child was crying every day. I have recently learned from the mother of that child, that the school never made her informed of this bullying or harassment. The mother states that she provided free services for the school with her printing buisness. The school has takent the position that the mothers statements are hear say and that she is not credible. The school never took any responsibility. Monitary gain truley out weighed my childs rights!

  • 25 Sharon L. 05/28/12 at 9:47 pm

    Yolanda. Only a physician can diagnosis that.

  • 26 Yolanda 05/26/12 at 11:52 am

    Hello, my name is Yolanda, I have a 13 year old son, who had a malignant brain tumor, which caused a great deal of his intellectual disabilities. Also, my son has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Is his disability the same as a traumatic brain injury.

  • 27 Sharon L. 04/29/12 at 7:35 pm

    Belle – Try to get that child away from that teacher fast and report her to the administration right away. This should not be allowed.

  • 28 Belle 04/25/12 at 10:17 am

    Do you think a substitute teacher who calls grade school children, whom she is suppose to educate, should call these children names like “Stupid” or “Retarded” is showing good judgement, especially in front of the other children in the class? The child by the way, has a glowing report card that she was proud of that same day. What would suggest the repercussions for the teacher/substitute teacher should be? Thanks for your participation.

  • 29 Stephanie R 04/18/12 at 9:16 pm

    My son is in 3rd grade and has adhd, autistic characteristics and stutters…he has a hard time expressing when he is upset so i have him role play. He has been bullyied since kindergarten by different kids over the last 4 years in a very small school (85 students). He has been choked with a rope, kicked in his privates, led off to hidden areas and beaten, been imitated and called stupid in the cafeteria. I questioned the teachers, principle, and the superintendent. Their solution was to ban me from school. Yesterday, he was attacked and started hyperventalating. He asked to call me. They tried to talk him out of it but he stood his ground. When they called me, They tried to prevent me from talking to him. When i insisted, he said pick me up. These bullies parents all work at the school. They protect them and my son has regressed now.

  • 30 1charmed12 03/13/12 at 4:34 pm

    My daugter is being bulied at her school, being called all sorts of names, being accused of stealing this girls stuff, they taunt her , laugh at her atc. I have been to the school several times, emailed and called. I have logged it all and have created the paper trail. Girls will be girls after my daughter was beat up. Since this tarted last yr, I have written the governor of our state, emailed the Dept of Ed, and now I am working with the attorney General’s office as I have had enough of the school doing nothing. I am meeting with an attorney next week. I tried the right avenues to have the door shut i y face, and what appears the school protecting the Bully. My daugter deserves better than this she is an honor student and has never had a discipline issue. I am fighting for her and for the others who cannot fight for themselves.!

  • 31 marisela 11/29/11 at 12:06 pm

    My child’s elementary school fails to call me when my six year old daughter is ill, and they keep her in the office. I’m concerned that this staff including the principal of the school are not doing what they are supposed too. I need to know what local Congress and legal government I can call?

  • 32 Sharon L. 11/22/11 at 8:52 pm

    TRINA – Yes you can sue. First get a copy of the school’s policy on bullying, harassment. Then get together with them to discuss before you tell them you are going to press charges. Everything will need to be put in writing. I would press charges if it were me.

  • 33 TRINA 11/18/11 at 3:24 am

    My son has been bullied for the past three years. I have notified the school and it only got worse. Last night at a basketball game he was assaulted. can I sue? Would rather get ahold of the bullies, but what can I do???

  • 34 Esther 10/17/11 at 7:16 pm

    My child was in a sped autism room last year. We just learned that the child assigned to sit next to our son hit children on a regular basis (21 times in a single week). We were never notified that he was EVER hit by anyone and only found out because even after changing schools, my son continues to obsess over that boy and I found his father’s blog…

    The aggressor has autism. My son has autism. The school has so far refused to answer any of my questions about was was done to my child. They cite confidentiality. What right do I have to information and what law backs that up?

  • 35 Sharon L. 05/27/11 at 5:38 pm

    Theresa – This is not good. Your son is only in first grade.If he is on an IEP, ask for an IEP meeting and request a functional behavior assessment. Be sure to sign the school’s paper so they complete the eval in 60 days unless your state has different timelines. The school should complete the assessment and provide you with the test results and a positive behavior intervention plan that those who interact with him at school will have to follow, including the principal.
    The behavior assessment will help school staff to understand his issues and what “triggers” the behavior issues. This will help you as well. Don’t let the team talk you out of this or say “we can do this without an IEP” – because if it a service is in the IEP, the school has to provide it.

  • 36 Theresa 05/18/11 at 10:57 pm

    my son 7yr. old son has adhd and the school principle is constantly picking on him. he takes recess away, makes him eat lunch alone, all field trips are taken away….his desk is taken away and he has to sit on the floor numerous things have happend and i need to know how i can protect my child at school there has to be some way he is only in the 1st grade and this is the second year it has happend and i am tired of him coming home crying everyday……if you have any info please pass it on… thanks!!!!

  • 37 Tiffany 01/03/11 at 10:23 am

    My son is switching schools tomorrow due to years of bullying at his current school. His self-esteem is shot now. As a family the stress this has put on us is unbelievable. Both my son and I have physical side effects from the stress: insomnia, stomach aches, etc. My husband and I argue over how to protect my son. My other child has not gotten the attention he deserves because we spend so much time trying to help our child who is being bullied. And worse, the adults at the school try to shift blame to my son when an altercation occurs, such as: “the other kid threatened to kill him because he was mad at your son,” or “they thought they were playing with him, it was all in good fun,” and the excuses go on but the bruises don’t lie. I had to fight to get him transferred, and we are so fearful of this happening again.

  • 38 Mia C. 10/18/10 at 2:02 pm

    For those of you that are recieving the runaround at school, you need to contact an attorney and go to your local newspapers. No school district wants to go through fighting allegations in the press.

  • 39 Kelly 09/22/10 at 12:33 am

    Our 12 yr old daughter was sexually harrased and violently assaulted at school today. Unfortunately, my daughter is not the first young girl to be victimized by this boy. However, the school is citing FERPA and refusing to communicate with us about what disciplinary action and safety measures will be taken, to insure this does not happen again. I amabsolutely not satisfied with being told, “We will take appropriate measures.” What does that mean? What do they believe is appropriate? I’m afraid to send her back to school.

  • 40 alicia 09/20/10 at 3:20 am

    Can a special education teacher file a cease harassment charge against a parent who is in the middle of a due process complaint twith their right of stay put envoked.

  • 41 Sharon L. 08/28/10 at 11:42 pm

    Connie – Bullying is a school issue not just a special ed issue. The principal needs to get involved immediately to rectify. You may request a time to observe the class as well. This may be a good idea.

  • 42 cheryl 08/21/10 at 12:27 am

    My son has been has been bullied in school for 5 years. We’ve spoken to the teacher and also principal who say they dont expel children that bully other kids. They keep the bully indoors all day, only one day though. Its just not good enough. They are supposed to give our children a safe enviroment. What happened to the no bullying at schools policy? He hasn’t been going to school. He is ten years old, maybe with ADD and he does have a learning disability. No kids are angels, but when it comes to teasing one another, there is no need to get physical. Its just not right. Can you help? thank you

  • 43 Connie 08/20/10 at 6:27 am

    Is the school required to notify me if my child gets injured? My child is nonverbal and in a special ed classroom with an aggressive child. Based on “rumors” and the increased number of bruises that I see, I think that she is being pinched and hit frequently – and the school year just started!

  • 44 CatMom 05/25/10 at 10:45 pm

    My son is quite large for his age and very strong. However, when the bullies do pick on him, he doesn’t fight back because its not in his nature. We teach our children the three Rs Respect responsible and ready to have fun. If the first is not present in certain activities, then by all means, he removes himself, whether a headache to the nurse or the such. I don’t believe fighting is a right of passage. It spread childhood trauma not easy to overcome. And the sooner children learn what’s acceptable behavior, then the better their future will be.

  • 45 Ywndricka 05/14/10 at 9:17 am

    Kathie and others,

    In some of these cases you should contact the Civil Rights Attorney and address below, your children are being discriminated because they have a disability that’s just not right at all.

    Office for Civil Rights U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.. Washington, D.C. 20202-1100 (202) 245-6800; 1-800-421-3481

    Now if someone is giving out confidential information about your children you need to contact FERPA

    Family Policy Compliance Office
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20202-8520

    ACLU in your state might help if you can not afford an attorney but contact them all.. I am writing all them this week about my son.

  • 46 Kathie 03/30/10 at 9:35 pm

    We were denied observation in class so we advised we had been tape recording the class for 3 weeks (30+ hours). Showed the teacher and aide were bullying, harassing and intimidating the children. Staff were removed from the class that day but were only suspended, 6 weeks later with pay pending investigation. All we are told is they can not tell us anything or promise that staff will not be back because its a personnel issue. On tape the teacher is making fun of my son who is on a speech IEP, making strange sounds pretending to be my son, saying this is why he is on an IEP. She goes around the class saying this one is ADHD, this one will never learn, this one doesn’t deserve to be here… The school system is NOT going to do anything. They protect their own. Who should I write and complain to? What are the laws that will allow me to know the answers we want?

  • 47 Sharon 03/27/10 at 11:14 am

    Jennifer: My son was being picked on on the bus in 5th grade by 3 boys. At first it started as just a little joking around and then got worse. Our son told us about it and we brought it up to the principal of the school. She told us she would handle it. For awhile it was ok but started up again. This time we put in writing the issues and needed it to be handled and sent it to the principal. She again stated she would handle it and again it went away for awhile but started up again. The last request was a certified letter stating that we would press charges against the parents for harassment and that took care of it. It was handled and it stopped. The schools as far as I know must handle any harassment issues with students or they can get in trouble.

  • 48 jennifer 03/25/10 at 9:26 am

    I am in the same position. My son was choked and beaten up by the same kid two different times. 1 was in the bathroom and the other was on the school bus (it was recorded) they are both in 5th grade. each time the kid was absent from school for a week. I am irate because the school will not give me any information and every time its happened they tell me ” it has been handled”—-when obviously since it has happened 2 times, it has NOT been handled.

    Shouldn’t the consequences be a little more sever than a week off each time? What rights do I have? I honestly feel like I should sue the school to prove a point.

  • 49 Brandy 02/10/10 at 11:32 pm

    A few weeks ago, a 3rd grader told me he was being “bothered” by three big boys but would not identify them. Today he took his aggression out on a kindergarten student who accidentally tripped over his backpack. I did not witness the altercation, but because I had documented the bullying, I am involved. So I stood wondering how much information to give the parent of the kindergarten student about the other student. I also wondered about the physical/emotional damages of the kindergarten student, and then found myself doubting whether or not to give the parent any information about the offender in fear that they may retaliate, thus making the bully the victim. I have a 4 yr old, so I put myself in the parents place. More questions arised, so I ask, where is the line between victim and bully?

  • 50 Cathy M 02/10/10 at 5:50 pm

    I am wondering if there is anything more involved when the bully and the bullied both have disabilities. There is a case in one of our local schools where a child with disabilities is being assaulted regularly by another child who also has a disability. The school claims that they are “doing everything they can” but the parent of the child being assaulted said it is not keeping her child safe. And they are not telling her what disciplinary action is being taken. I suggested the mom may need to get a one on one aid for her child written into her IEP to keep her child safe. Can the parent request things like FBA’s for the child who is bullying hers?

  • 51 Casey 02/09/10 at 7:31 pm

    I have a 12 yr old who has been bullied off and on since 4th grade. It never seems enough is done till MY son has had enough and tries to defend himself. When he did this just recently, he was suspended from school for 3 days. I asked the question. “for defending himself?” The answer was there is no tolerence for fighting period. So let me get this straight, I should tell my son, when you are getting beat up, lay there until they are finished and then get up and get help. I DON’T THINK SO! This has happened a few times this year , and I know this all goes on his school record. Now MY kid looks like a trouble maker. This system is really broken, along with my son’s self esteem.

  • 52 Pete78 02/09/10 at 2:02 pm

    As a K-5 substitute teacher, I’ve had to deal with boys who have behavior plans for anger management. I’ve had several girls in the past who have targeted these boys, pushed their buttons verbally, and get off on watching these boys lose it and throw stuff. These same girls are horrified and belligerent when I write them up for bullying and have them escorted to the office. Usually the same response, with a badly-hidden smirk… I didn’t do anything, I didn’t touch him, sometimes lies about what they did or didn’t do. Thankfully, other kids step up and report what they saw. I document their names as witnesses, too. These girls just don’t think they’re bullies, since they didn’t hit anyone. And it’s horrifying to see this happening at so young an age.

  • 53 Bertie 02/09/10 at 12:44 pm

    My grandson (which my husband & I have custody) has recently had an issue with beng bullied and he was suspended for 2 days. According to the school principal our grandson became the aggressor when after several attempts to notify school officials and his grandfather contacting the school about the issues, took issues in his own hands. The bully had been
    approaching him and verbally abusing him and pushing him. The morning of the call my husband made to the school, it happened again and our grandson said some words to him and pushed him, tired of the threats, the bully then head locked him and started punching him. The young man was expelled I think, not sure, he had been in Alternative School for fighting prior to this. As I mentioned our grandson was given 2 days suspension. How does a parent deal with this type of situation?

  • 54 Roger 02/09/10 at 9:32 am

    Great article. Good to show the real perspective. Today everyone is afraid to speak up against tyranny. It seems that those who are special needs get it the worst. It’s our God given duty as parents and educators to stand up for the defenseless. And really not just the special needs kids. Punishment needs to be more severe for bullying. Do you really think that the parents of bullies are any different than their kids? What is calling them going to do. They allow this behavior. After a 1st or 2nd warning, the bullies need to be removed so that the other children can learn in peace and enjoy their schooltime. Society seems to allow and even encourage the ‘me me me’ attitude that all bullies have. It’s uncalled for and needs to be stopped. Christians stand up! Quit being victims and fight back legally.
    1 Cor 15:57

  • 55 Pam 02/09/10 at 9:02 am

    My son was repeatedly bullied by two different bullies. The school refused to release any information regarding the investigation or punishment of the bullies. I requested an opinion from IPAD. They declined to assist me. I also wrote a letter to one of my state senators. He also declined to assist me.

  • 56 nicole 01/28/10 at 1:45 pm

    I am so incredibly concerned and distraught after reading all the parents comments. I am going through my son being bullied verbally and physicall, the school and the district turning their back to the issue,blaming my son and defending the perp and the suicide of a 15 yr old girl due to bullying. I’m really concerned, my son has mentioned suicide and that he can’t take anymore. I have shown him I am trying to keep him safe and get him out of that school. I have gone so far as to record my concern of the way my son feels directly onto his IEP. Could anyone who says they are doing their job really ignore the comments I have added to his IEP? I am so scared for all kids suffering from bullying and it feels like a hopeless battle that seems like I can’t win. Why is it that parents concerns are so disregarded?

  • 57 THurt 01/26/10 at 6:40 pm

    My 10 yr old son was being bullied verbally by a group of girls constantly last school year. When at the end of the school year he had enough and hit one of the girls when she screamed in his face (literally in his face) her mother,a teacher there,filed assault charges. His behavior plan was not being followed and he was not supervised as he was supposed to be. Many witnesses stated she invaded his personal space and provoked him. However, the school did nothing about the bullying going on, and my son served 24 hrs community service, had a $70 fine and had to take a ‘decision making’ class where he was put into a room with 16-17 yr old inner city boys who all had major attitudes. After filing a complaint with the school district I was told my son never should have been referred, it was not his fault. But what’s done is done.

  • 58 D. Dowell 01/25/10 at 7:15 pm

    I absolutely agree! Where is the case law that requires the school to provide the victim that information?

  • 59 ann 01/18/10 at 9:06 am

    My grandson is being screamed at by his teacher. My daughter met with teacher, she is saying he is lying. Other parents have voiced the same concern. Nothing has been done. What can be done ?

  • 60 Dawn 10/06/09 at 6:56 am

    What if the bullies were the Vice Principal, Principal and teacher? This is what happened to my 11 year old who is PDD-NOS. I was continually told not to believe him because his perspective was wrong. So I resorted to recording his class without the school knowing. By doing so, it was confirmed that he had in deed told me word for word. Tried to take on the school but couldn’t afford to go any further. I still wish I would and could have done more. He had been taken outside and pushed/pulled on till he ran. He had his neck grabbed and shoved in a cubby hole in class. He had his collar bone pressed down on till he sat down (Vice Principal). He was constantly threatened and told not to tell his mother. I could go on and on. The superintendent agreed that the school did nothing wrong.

  • 61 Earnest 07/28/09 at 2:55 pm

    For clarification’s sake, my earlier post was very limited in scope- I was only referring to a school’s inability to divulge certain personal info.- and so please don’t be discouraged when they don’t. Pretty please don’t take that to mean anything further. I taught middle school for several years before law school, and am very aware of how essential advocating for your children is to ensuring their proper treatment.
    And- a broader question/ response to some of the lack of response by school admin’s to students being bullied: I know that folks have brought suits under Title VI for the creation of a “hostile educational environment.” This would be supported in cases where a student was bullied, and the admin failed to take action because of a student’s race. I don’t know if ADA has a similar cause of action somewhere?

  • 62 Earnest 07/28/09 at 2:26 pm

    Hello All-
    I am just a lowly law student, but I am under the impression that FERPA (34 CFR 99) prohibits the release of disciplinary records of one student to the parent of another. A parent would have a right to review records that are directly related to their own child. This would often include witness statements- even if the statements included info. about another student. But not the sanction imposed on another student, even when the parent’s child was injured/ victimized by the disciplined student’s conduct (see 73 FR 74832). [FERPA only covers the privacy of records, not personal observations, etc.]
    This is not intended to contradict the oracle Wrightslaw, whom I love dearly, nor to support a particular policy- but only help explain why schools are taking certain actions. Again- law student only- I may be missing something

  • 63 Teresa 05/26/09 at 11:35 pm

    Nephew with autism has been victim of bullying on several occasions in school. It has been brought to administrations attention at various times throughout the year & matter continues unresolved. Requests for 1:1 have been dismissed with alternate solutions such as peer buddies & recreational aides assigned to “supervise” him. The bullying continues & administrators continue to dismiss it because of the way the ask my nephew what happens. I have yet to find “professionals’ who truly know how to “interrogate” a child especially one with special needs. My nephew shuts down & will not discuss what happens. Strongly feel a 1:1 would help. The recreational aide has failed on several instances just recently my nephew walked out of school into the parking lot & no one knew. His mom found him wandering in the parking lot.

  • 64 Advocate1 05/24/09 at 9:04 am

    During an IEP meeting in 2005, the minutes indicate that the attorney for the school will contact the Sherriffs department to address parents concerns of child receiving cuts and bruises from a staff member. This never occurred.

    Children in special education continue to be seriously injured while at school in similar situations.

    At what point do Attorney ethics come into play to allow law enforcement to investigate this series of events to ensure that neglect/abuse is not the root cause of this ongoing practice?

    I know that COPAA is collecting data to be presented to Congress. I also know that two special needs children required medical attention recently in our district that could have been prevented if school attorneys were not “protecting” schools from making the same mistakes over and over.

    Justice anyone?

  • 65 stacy 05/22/09 at 4:13 pm

    My child is being bullied by a teacher and her class. The school tells me that its my child, not anyone else. My child has adhd and that is why this is going on. What can I do?

  • 66 SusanB 05/11/09 at 5:14 pm

    Tia-You need to begin documenting to the school in writing every time a bullying incident takes place, if it did not happen in writing in never happened at all. Also Texas has an organization called TOPAA (Texas Organization of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates). They have a website, it is

  • 67 Tia 05/11/09 at 2:44 pm

    My 10 yr old son is being verbally bullied constantly by the kids in his class. He has severe AD/HD and pediatric bipolar disorder. One girl in particular picks on him constantly and knows how to push his buttons. In the last month, she has invaded his private space (not touching him though) and yelled in his face, etc. and he has hit her twice. The girl’s mother is a teacher there. This mom ‘brags’ about how many times she’s called the police on her ex. They have now pressed assault charges against my son. He is 10 and in 4th grade. He is so worried that he is going to jail! The school refuses to do anything to the kids who are bullying him and pushing his buttons. He is punished for ‘losing it’. Who wouldn’t? Texas is the only state that prosecutes children criminally for school ‘scraps’. The school police have been no help.

  • 68 suzie 04/30/09 at 11:01 pm

    What options do I have when my 11 yr. daughter is special needs(severe ADHD, and Tourettes) and she is being bullied by a specific group of girls. They are verbally abusive and laugh at her. Apparently they’ve been doing it all year but my daughter wanted to handle it on her own. Today at recess they were picking on her and her 8 yr. old brother went to help(he’s also special needs) the girls then called him names and one of them proceeded to hit him. of course none of the adults saw it happen. This is not the first time. Last year she was picked on the 2nd week of school, put on a hit list to be shot and a picture of her was defaced with a moustache and a bad word. Please can you tell me the steps or options that I have. The school as a bullying policy but they still act like it’s he said she said.

  • 69 David1 04/22/09 at 3:41 pm

    Ignoring doesn’t make it go away

    Who’s next?

  • 70 pam 04/15/09 at 11:10 am

    This special education teacher makes me sick to stomach to even insinuate that the bully is the victim here. My child is a special needs child and has suffered both mentally and physically from bullies at his school. I finally had to hire an attorney and threaten to press charges with the local authorities in order to find some relief from this “so called acceptable” behavior that the school turns a blind eye to. I was told, ” Kids will be kids” when I complained. For once in your life, do the right thing and protect the victim in these situations. This type of behavior would never be acceptable in the work place. The bully would not only be fired, but the company sued for turning a blind eye. There should be no difference in the treatment of harassment or bullying in the school setting.

  • 71 klaire 03/26/09 at 4:13 pm

    Our 12yo 5th grader, new to public school program this year has IEP’s in place.. My husband and I are aware that his real issues lie in pragmatics. He was recently tested and his score was just below the range for normal range. The speech path shared that this is what is really causing him the most difficulty with his decifering and decoding his social situations There are three boys who are repeatedly seeking him out either in class, lunch or recess and encouraging other kids to avoid him. The solution from the teacher was that “she couldn’t make the other kids like him”, “to write a list of reasons why the other kids may not like him”, “make a plan to see what he could try to change his behaviors” I have called a meeting with the teachers and psychologist to discuss the need to address all kids. I’d like some advice.

  • 72 Ellen 03/25/09 at 1:20 pm

    So according to the last statement, my daughter’s principal should tell me what consequences the bully had after he talked to her. He tells me he cannot say anything except that he has taken care of it. Yet I don’t know how the bully was disciplined, besides being told to not do it again. Can I demand the principal tell me what happened?

  • 73 Mindy 02/04/09 at 9:42 pm

    My son is an IEP kid and is continually bullied by a group of kids . I have repeatedly went to the school to resolve the problem and got nowhere. My son came home today with a mark 3 1/2 inches long by being hit with a broom handle. The school gave him an ice pack and never contacted me about the injury. The child who did this to my son is a repeat offender. What do I do? Do I bring the police in?

  • 74 Mika 01/22/09 at 1:27 pm

    I agree, parents need to know who did what, when and what was done to WHOMEVER this was done by TEACHER, student, friend. I think my daughter is suffering PTSD due to a teacher that made an “racial” remark and stated she was being sarcastic. Nothing probably was done to the teacher, but my daughter took an emotional hit. Not just from this incident, other incidents that she may have played a role in, but teachers did nothing. New principal? We will see what change she is looking forward to. Kids dont understand sarcasm and parents don’t understand being left out of what is going on. It all starts with the teachers we look up to to educate our kids while at school. If you are doing your part at home and the school is creating XTRA issues for you to deal with at home…then what?

  • 75 Jennifer 01/05/09 at 1:11 pm

    Our 8th grader has also been bullied and most of the time, he is the one getting in trouble. Seems to me the teachers see everything he does but not what is done to him. After several years of phone calls and promises, I have finally started sending emails and getting responses. I send them to the special education administrator, the principal, assitant principal, as well as the superintendent. I have had enough of empty promises that the bullies are being dealt with. I no longer accept that the school cannot reveal the name of the bullies. My son never tells on anyone without me prying it out of him. I have explained to him that these kids get him in trouble and now it is up to him to make sure they are punished as well.

  • 76 fullmom 01/01/09 at 10:48 pm

    You guys are scaring me. my son is in preschool and is asd and my daughter is in elementary school and is asd everyday is a struggle for me to let them go because I’m afraid that one day this “might” happen. They are in good schools, I frequently visit “just to make sure” they never know when I’m going to show. I go in visit chat with the teachers and take the kids early that day. When you catch people off guard you see and hear a lot, I have never seen anything bad it has been all good thus far. I wish you all the best of luck and my prayers and thoughts are with you. I too was bullied as a child, in some cases it has made me stronger in other more cynical of people and their intentions.

  • 77 R 12/03/08 at 1:37 pm


    Phone calls are not good enough for back up to use later for showing lack of action by Schools. Emails are best with – responses, times, dates on them. Start from the bottom and work your way up until someone listens and takes action. Call the police and file a report every time a incident happens. If Schools refuse to give you information about YOUR child’s SAFETY – don’t send them – go higher – EMAIL THE SUPER. After all – you put YOUR child in there hands everyday and it’s YOUR responsibility to keep YOUR child safe. My son has Aspergers – this is what I did when a bully broke my childs finger. The school had to prove to me how they were going to keep him safe before I would send him back – It only took 2 days. I proved lack of action with prior emails and got answers. Do not be scared – this is YOUR child.

  • 78 Patricia 12/02/08 at 3:30 pm

    My grandson is child with Specific Learning Disability he being harassed and bullied at his middle school. I have had numerous meetings with the Principal and the Behavioral Interventionist. They have refused to tell me what actions were taken against the students that harassed and bullied my grandson. I was told by law they cannot share that information with me. What can I do or where can I go to obtain this information. My grandson has been slapped, choked with a rope, kicked, called stupid, retarded and called names using profanities. Please help. Thanks.

  • 79 Maureen 11/30/08 at 8:07 pm

    Our 10 yr old son has multiple disabilities including but not limited to Asperger’s. He was bullied on the bus and in school for 2 years. I documented each incident by emails to the schl admin; they were witnessed by his outside therapist who serviced him in school. Schl admin. dismissed every incident that caused our son to be hospitalized 3 times w/in his last school yr.

    During recorded 504 mtgs, they refused to aknowledge the bullying, reinstate his classification, revise his IEP, consider the opinion of the IEE & the outside therapist. They refused to remove him from the hostile classroom environment. By the end of the year, he developed a hit list that we shared w/the s.d. The principle laughed; the gatekeeper refused to move him to an emotional support classrm for the remaining 11 days.

  • 80 carroll 11/26/08 at 12:10 pm

    I need your son who has and I.E.P and is overly compliant,with no behavioral issues from his prior school.He has been telling me that he thinks his teacher sometimes bullies the kids,well my son came home and told me the teacher did it to him the other i talked to the teacher and said the scare tactics and intimidation better stop.or I would file a now we have a big meeting next week with principal,school administrators so on.they ofcourse they will defend the teacher,so im not sure how to handle this,what do I say or not say,Its his word against the teachers.What should I do,they said to me on the phone.oh your son is just very sensitive,my son is very smart he knows right from wrong

  • 81 Wrightslaw 11/23/08 at 11:37 pm

    Sandra –

    Every time your grandson is bullied, you need to make a written note of this. “If it isn’t in writing, it never happened.” You must learn to create a paper trail that describes what is happening, when, by whom.

    1. Read “Use Low Tech Tools to Create Paper Trails at
    The article includes a Problem Report Worksheet. Fill in this form every time you learn he is bullied and send a copy to the school (keep the original for your records).

    2. This child is being damaged and needs to see a mental health therapist. A good therapist/counselor can be a wonderful advocate for him and can teach you and your family how to deal with the school.

    I have more ideas but don’t want to overwhelm you so start with this list.

  • 82 Sandra 11/18/08 at 3:29 pm

    My 9 yr. old grandson is bullied every day at his public school. My son, daughter in law and myself have gone to the school and reported this instances. What we have been told is “They’re kids, this happens all the time.” My grandson has ADD and is definitely not socially and academically like the other children. He is called a loser, wimp, gay and retard. He has also been stabbed with pencils, hit with a hockey stick and kicked in his private parts. I am literally scared the entire time he is in school. We get no help from the school and they treat us like a bunch or complainers. What can we do? My son cannot afford to move to a different school district. Thank you for any help you can give us.

  • 83 Wrightslaw 11/17/08 at 5:52 pm

    Crystal – Do you know what happened to your daughter? What happened to the perpetrator? You say you “asked” and you “were told” which suggests that nothing is in writing. If you don’t document an incident or what you were told, it is easier for the school to sweep it under the rug and do nothing.

    Whether or not your daughter has an IEP is irrelevant. You need to write a letter that describes what happened to your daughter, what the school told you and won’t tell you, and what the school is doing to ensure that this will not happen again. You’ll find letter writing tips and sample letters on this page:

    Writing letters to create a paper trail is often the most important step parents can take to advocate for and protect their kids.

  • 84 Crystal 11/15/08 at 5:16 pm

    My 13 yr. old daughter is a victim of bullying & sexual harassment and when I asked any questions regarding the boy who victimized my daughter, I was told that it could not be openly discussed until we have an IEP. I do not have an advocate and desperately need one as I do not want to go to the IEP alone! Any suggestions? I live in California if that is of any help? Where do I start to find an advocate for my child who is attending an SDC class?

  • 85 karenRZ 11/12/08 at 10:54 pm

    Wow Margo/Mom,

    Your situation reminds me of a couple of bullying situations I had to contend with when I was in Jr High. Gangs of girls are the worst! The bullies only stood down when I refused to back down and challenged them to a fight. That behavior would be considered “unacceptable” in adult eyes, but boy – it sure made the bullies stay outta my way!

    I’m sorry to hear that your son couldn’t confide in you – I will keep that in mind as my son gets into the upper grades and try to keep the lines of communication open.

    Thanks for your story. I hope it’s working out for your son!

  • 86 Wrightslaw 11/12/08 at 8:52 pm

    Margo: What you describe – incidents of bullying/victimization when the victim remains silent, sometimes for years – are not uncommon. Sometimes, kids don’t complain because they fear being labeled as tattletales or sissies. Sometimes the bully threatens violence against the child/victim’s family. These situations are difficult because the child/victim is placed in an impossible situation – “if you tell what I’m doing to you, your family will be harmed or worse.” Kids who are victimized need to work with a therapist who has experience in working with abuse victims and kids with PTSD. ~ Pam

  • 87 Margo/Mom 11/12/08 at 3:16 pm


    My son had a long-term bout of victimization during his first two years of high school. I knew only bits of it until the day that my son shoved the agressor and the school threatened expulsion (the other kid took a swing at my son and missed, hitting the teacher). My son spent two years “handling” this harassment by avoiding the kid (and the class he was in), reporting it to teachers, other acceptable behavior. There were disciplinary attempts–but no resolution. When all came out, I was shocked by how little was shared with me, as well as how little importance was attached to the behavior. I didn’t want the other kid expelled–but there are meaningful solutions that can result in changed behavior. We changed schools–too much was wrong to be able to change.

  • 88 David1 11/12/08 at 3:00 pm

    Our child was assaulted by an untrained school shadow.

    In a meeting with the person who is now in charge of Special Education, photos were presented as well as a personal interview with my child as the Admin was shown each cut and bruise on arms, chest and shoulders.

    This mandated reporter opted not to report this to authorities to investigate to ensure that other students were not at risk.
    To address this, changes were made to my child’s discipline report.

    Peers are nolonger the bully. The administrator and an attorney have worked really hard to modify documentation. It was reported on audio in Nov 05 that the assault was “Justified” by the Admin with their attorney present.

    Bullying is not limited to peers. Some bullies are protected by those we trust to protect our kids.

  • 89 karenRZ 11/12/08 at 12:18 pm

    Our ADHD LD 9 yr old son has been picked on by other kids; he acts immature & naive. We have him in karate hoping the lessons [walk away rather than fight, but be able to defend yourself if need be] will help. We role play w/ him to show that there are other ways to deal w/ bullies, & that not all teasing is bad.

    I have a good relationship with the school & care program. I am told what happens to the child who’s hit my son [my son usually tells me the name]. Occasionally, due to my son’s behavior, not all of it is the other kid’s fault.

    Getting into fights & teasing is an age old rite of passage. Parents have to teach social & coping skills, but also teach kids how to defend themselves before coming permanent easy targets. Schools & parents need to draw the line between this rite & outright meanness, & address the aggressor.