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

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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.

  1. “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.” I completely agree with this, but I’m curious if there is any legal precedent to support this statement – as we are facing a similar situation right now. Can you provide a citation ?

  2. Possible FERPA violation/ Admin bullying behavior in front of students peers to Mom/ cafeteria employee
    My son has an IEP,
    I work in the cafeteria at his school,
    Vice principle came to speak with me while I was on the clock supervising kids getting their lunches… we are a title one school & receive funding for students needing reduced/ free lunch. SO many fruits/ vegetables must be on their plate. My son had colored on the carpet with a blue crayon. This was not an emergency : loss of appendage uncontrolled bleeding , paramedics/ police  called etc.
    When I am on the clock I am an employee, I say hi to my son & that’s where it ends. I am not there as Mom, I am there as a food service assistant. I value my job but not being harassed while I am trying to work

  3. My son is 6 years old and in the 1st grade. One day, another boy punched my son 3 times in the testicles. We notified the school and all they did was tell us that the two would be separated on the bus. Fast-forward a few weeks and my boyfriend and I find out that not only is this child threatening to fight my son, but they are sitting 3 to a seat on the bus with one child between them. We have, again, contacted the school and all they said was they will make sure they are in separate classrooms NEXT YEAR and they will make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s what they said last time but apparently, because there were no consequences for the initial sexual assault on my child, the other child and his parents didn’t get the message. What should I do now?

    • I suggest asking the campus or administration building for a copy of their policy for dealing with bullying. Then you can see if the campus is following that policy. Many campuses feel it is difficult to identify bullying, & to stop it. So they do little or nothing, so it is important to know district policy. Typically this allows parents to move their concern, & request for help up the “chain of command”.

  4. My 8 yr old son with a brain injury which is considered disabled, to look at him u wouldn’t think, was attacked by 2 boys on the playground. my son went to the teacher, nothing was done. Called the school principal, wouldnt take my call. This isnt the first run in with this principal not doing as needed for my sons education and a bullying situation. The secretary came back on the line with “the principal will handle it”. I never received a call back. i have no clue if these children were even questioned. Someone please tell me what i can do. i live in Pennsylvania

    • I suggest sending a written letter/email to the principal, & superintendent about the bullying incidents, & ask for a copy of the district policy on bullying. You can then see what the principal & school are required to do.

  5. My 10 year old son with special needs attended a summer camp where he was bullied by kids there. He tried telling one of the teachers what the kids were doing and the teacher asked him was he retarded. The next day I talked to the director and was assured me that he would take care of the situation. Every day after I would ask the director the outcome of situation and he would dance around saying it was a misunderstanding and we will have a meeting soon. After being told that he would avoid me when I picked up my son, by having someone else at the front desk. A week goes by and he hasn’t got back to myself or my husband. My son will not be returning and I’m filing a complaint with the BBB. If a there’s something else can be done please let me know so that this doesn’t happen again.

  6. My child (age 15) was in class on Tuesday talking with another student. Teacher asked them to stop talking and of course they didn’t. The teacher walked over to both students put his hands on the back of their necks squeezed and pushed their heads down on the desk while screaming profanity at them. I was not notified of this incident until Wednesday. I had a meeting with the principal this morning and got nowhere!! They are making excuses for the teacher and even allowed him to continue teaching Tuesday and Wednesday. They said that he is now off campus because of his profanity. I really don’t know legally how to proceed or if I am just making more of this than need be. Any comments or advice will help.

  7. My child was bit in the face at daycare when I asked what child bit her they stated it was against the law to tell me that info… is that true

  8. My daughter was assaulted at school. She had her back turned and was grabbed and hit by the other student. My daughter defended herself. Both children were arrested and taken to juvenile detention. My daughter didn’t see this coming, and I feel this punishment was severely over the top for her! Advice? Lawyer?

  9. My son was intentionally struck by suv as he walked to his car in school lot. He rode the hood of suv for 15-20 ft as driver accelerated. (caught on tape). Happened on a Friday and I asked principal to call police, he did not, he went to football game instead. School downplayed incident tried to call it reckless operation. I went to PD they took video to prosecutor where charges of felonious assault where filed, student found guilty of felonious assault. School let student back at school even before trial happened and did not notify me person who assaulted my son would be back at school. School did not turn over other evidence but I told prosecutor about evidence and she collected it from school. One big cover up!!!! I have been in a battle with the school for discrimination for 2yrs.

  10. Unfortunately, my child is being accused of being a bully. However, no one will tell me what he said or did. As a parent don’t I have a right to know the details of what he is being accused of

  11. My Daughter has been going to a special needs located in PA. She has been doing good to and from school. Which a van picks her up and drops her off. They got another student with a disability that gets picked up as well. The 1st time this student wasa on the van he starts swearing at my child . This has been going on every morning and afternoon to and from school. He swears at the van driver . I don’t feel like my child is safe to be on that van when he is there. can I take action? who can I talk to?

  12. My son is 16 and attends a private school for autistic children. Today he took a folded piece of paper and tapped the teacher on her butt with it when she turned her back to him. The teacher says this is sexual harassment and that she is going to file a police report against my son if it happens again. He is autistic! He doesn’t even understand what sexual harassment is. He is known for being the class clown and was simply trying to be funny. The fact that he laughed after he did it really sent her over the edge.Should we pull him from this school? We were told when we enrolled him that they had seen and dealt with everything at the school and that nothing he did could surprise or offend any of them, now they threaten him with a police record? Please Help!

    • While the teacher may have felt uncomfortable and embarrassed or even harassed from her perspective, this is a strong data point that she is ill prepared to work with autistic children or their families. At a minimum, if the school cannot offer an alternate teacher, I would consider another option. This teacher is already likely to be extremely biased against your child and I would be concerned with her ability to provide a quality learning environment and support.

      As the school mentioned, there is absolutely a much larger spectrum of behavior that comes with autism (e.g., physical aggression, self-injurious behaviors) that can pose more of a risk to school personnel safety.

  13. I tried to talk to the mom of a child who has bullying my son and now shes filed disorderly conduct…….What can i do……Why should i have to pay an attorney to fight when my sons been bullied? I dont get it!

    • There is a 12 year old girl that bullies my 10 year old daughter..she made physical contact with her on bus last week. The mother of this child know she bullies. There’s more. This child just wont stop on my daughter. From name calling to this! Throwing markers at her head. More.. I shouldnt have to get a lawyer. What can I do?

  14. Hello. My son is 3-years old and in a private school. He has been physically bullied by a 5-yo in his class. I’ve notified the school with documentation and pictures. I also sent this to his new teachers. 1st day of school and my son has come home with a grapefruit size bruise on his back from being pushed so hard he fell backwards landing on concrete and rocks. The boy then put his foot on my son’s face while he was still laying on the ground. I’m so worried what will happen next. What, if anything else can I do? I’m in Alabama

  15. My daughter is in 4th grade and a girl put an open scissor towards her neck and told her she would take her snack otherwise…. Once my daughter told a teacher which did take her 2 weeks to tell anybody, the principal was informed. My daughter missed the next day of class since her Asthma was acting up. So I tried to get info what the school would do about it. I got to hear that they had called the girls parent and that my daughter would be safe. They had punished the girl but she would be back with my daughter in the same classroom. When I insisted that this was not appropriate I was told that the girl could not be removed from the classroom since that would be double Jeopardy. If I wanted them separated I could take my girl out of the classroom. Great! Victimizing the victim again.

  16. My son is 16 a sophomore. Since September a teacher has started bullying, mocking, making fun of. I went to school the first time it happened told principal, secretary. Never got response back. The last one my son was at school in her class, leaning on his hand. Said she went across hall got a stand like president talks at, said “get up here, bet you will listen now,” made him stand like 2-3 hours in front of class. They were staring at him, legs and back hurt. as always she wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom. I went to school demanded meeting, told principal what happened. Today my son’s principal had a meeting. After each question he was saying, it was – “well I don’t think she meant it” then the last one, “don’t you think she was helping him?” I said were done, don’t answer that, to my son.

  17. Wow, couldn’t get through all of these, just terrible. Sorry i cannot provide more advice; it would take pages, but at least I can offer a positive story. My 15 year old son with FASD has been bullied and assaulted several times his first half of freshman year. I have documented everything, (used to be an attorney), held meetings, worked with my son, threatened and warned the school, etc. Fourth time my son (again) tries to avoid fight but breaks the other kid’s nose and is charged with assault. Receives lots of threats from kid’s family and other students over social media. Trial was two days ago and judge throws case out at end of State’s evidence; my son did not even have to testify as victim’s own statement showed he was the aggressor for trying to pull him down bleacher steps.

    • My daughter has been involved in two different fights with this one girl that is 2-3 yrs older than her. My daughter is 15. She fought back each time both times notified the school and filled out bully repor.. 2nd fight happened on the bus it was recorde.. The school didn’t know about the fight till I reported it yet agai.. Now my daughter and the other little girl is both being charged with disorderly conduct. Yes I understand fighting is not prohibited but when does my daughter get protected. She will now be in fear to defend herself because the law is if you both fight and defend yourself it’s mutual combat. Today we pleaded not guilty and is taking this to trial but being a single mom with two daughters I can not afford the legal hel.. Just looking for legal advice.

  18. My son is 16. We just recently got a diagnosis of Aspergers. He has ADHD and this was known from a young age. Ever since the Asperger diagnosis he has been called Asperger and a side of fries and retard. He has even been told to kill himself. My wife and I have stayed in director contact with the school regarding the bullying and have even given them named of the child doing it. They do it in front of the teachers. Last week one of the boys took it too far again and my son asked the teacher to make him stop she called the principal on my son. My son told them that if they wouldn’t do anything that he was going to. He told the class that the next person that called him a retard that he was going to hurt them. Ended up with that boy got a fractured cheek bone and my son 3 day suspension.

    • Call a lawyer, a therapist and a psychiatrist if you don’t have them already.

      The problem is that without provocation of a physical sort, behavioral or neurological disabilities will not suffice to avoid liability for assault, though it does go to mitigation of punishment. I also put my son in martial arts with instructions to teach him out to defend himself without hurting anyone. (See my general post above.)

  19. My daughter just turned 13, she in special classes because of her learning disability besides being heavy set. She is very kind hearted and only wants to make friends. This is year she is suppose to graduate from junior high. But this school year has been a nightmare. She has been bullied all year by a certain girl at her school. This girl has gone as far as to befriend other girls just to get them to beat up my daughter. So my daughter has notify the school office of everything going on so that it is noted on record. She has been suspended serveral times for defending herself against the bullies. Now the school has decided to take away my daughter’s graduation and other privileges. Can they do this?

    • You really need a lawyer or learn how to advocate for your child.. On your question, yes I believe they can, but at this point you need to be more concerned about protecting your daughter and suing the Bd of Ed.

  20. My son has adhd ptsd and has been bullied since kindergarten. I had to take him to hospital for stitches when his head was shoved into the window on the bus. Now in 3rd grade he finally got tired of it and today punched one of the kids in his face. Now the child that was bullying is “the victim” and nothing was done to the other 5 boys. I do not know what is going to happen, if the parent will try and press charges or not. My son is being disciplined at-home and school. He finally fought back and is being punished. I can’t help but feel this other child is not the victim. I’m hurt to know my child is going through this, the school and staff seem to not care and just “talk” to the other kids. Talking is not working. The kids were trying to scare my son, he finally got tired of being bullied and did something about it. I just don’t want things to escalate. Don’t know how to discipline him for it.

  21. Hello my 9 year old daughter was being bullied for almost a month in school. I contacted the principal, the assistant principal, the guidance counselor, the resource officer, her teacher, bus driver and the school board. there seems like nothing was really done. my 9 year old went to the doctor for excited because she didn’t want to go to school because she was afraid. she had suicidal thoughts about wanting to kill herself. she was going to start cutting herself. from her doctor’s appointment, they sent her straight to the psychiatric ward for kids. my daughter got punched in her face on the bus. the individual who punched her only got in school suspension not kicked off the bus. I was notified by the principal that she was going to look at the video tapes and call me back. never did. she was also going to send out bullying letters to the parents and never did. so now my child is on medication and is afraid to go to school.

    • my daughter is 7. she got pinched down below by a boy who harassed her last year. punched in the face and kicked at by two girls. principal is saying that she is making this up for attention from the.m
      what to do? i threatened to sue them and need a lawyer.

  22. Hello, I am reading up on bullying because on November 10, 2015 my daughter fought her Bully back after 2 years of walking away from comments being made directly & indirectly. Rumors & Lies spread on her & our family.. My Daughter was the only one punished from the fight. NOW, The bully’s Moma Is press’in Charges.. I need Advice & Help

    • Did u ever get it resolved. I’m going through the same thing with my daughter now..any advice would be great, no one is helping us.

  23. I have been bullied for the past month by one girl, i had notified every one of my teachers and not a thing was done about it. So 2 days ago i took it into my own hands as my father said i should and i punched her, so i could get my point across because obviously confronting her wasn’t working. I am suspended now and the principle says it was my fault. Now her mother is wanting to press charges against me. Is she able to press charges against me even though her daughter has been bullying me?

    • If you can prove no teacher acted to protect you …. the date you reported the offense … document the date, witnesses . You have a right to attend school without fear

  24. I am bullied at my place of work. I am a school aide. A parent is the bully. It started with a question I was suppose to answer. I would have answered but I was helping a 1st grader when she decided to interrupt because she was more important in her opinion. I took time answering the her. One thing led to another and she threatened me! She has since then made sure to be around me. I don’t know what to do. She is insane.

    • Direct your parent to the teacher in charge. it’s not your job to answer any kind of question. Inform your teacher and principal. She has the degree and responsibility


    My 12 year old daughter has been bullied by on other student for about 2 years. I advice her to talk to her to let her know what’s the problem or what’s going on. The school called my daughter to the office to let her know she need to stay away from the girl that has been bulling her that they would talk to her later. After second period the girl continue to bully my daughter. My daughter had just had it and threw the first punch. Now the bully is the victim.

    My daughter was charged with assault and battery. What can I do? Also the police department handcuff my daughter to take her to the police department with out reading her rights.

    • I am having the same issue. I am currently suspended because they say the bully was the victim. I had told all my teachers and still not a thing was done. My dad told me to punch her, so I did. Now her mom is trying to press charges against me.

      • Tell the police social worker or whomever, that your father encouraged you to punch her. Parents should never encourage physical altercations. This isn’t the 60’s and 70’s sounds like your parents made a mistake and they should own up to this. If its a first offense you should get probation with dismissal of the case provided you cooperate. If its not your first charge will perhaps the problem is you.

  26. Marion County has a very long history for records violations they even gave a child ‘s records to an attorney without consent and for non educational purposes but for ligation against a parent. The child was not named as either the plaintiff or the defendant and the school district attorney detailed the child confidential school records in open court in front of TV stations. This is the violations that Marion County schools has been allowed to violate for years. The school district attorney even admitted under deposition that the use of a parent’s email to the school district were not for the educational benefits of the child but for litigation in a lawsuit for the benefit of the school district. This event occurred after the child was injured at school and the child’s MD reported county schools to the child protective agency for endangerment of the child. The parent had just gotten a state law judge order for the school district to abide by the child MD orders instead the school system attacked the parent when the child was harmed. This is invasion of privacy does anyone have an attorney willing to make a stand?

  27. 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.

    • Hold up, your kid got suspended on here say? Oh no. Teacher back turned more than once response? Maybe that teacher needs a job where she can keep her back turned

  28. 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?

    • Two wrongs don’t make a right. Read your parents rights handbook. Your kid has rights. Bullying has a big $$ in court I hear

  29. 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?

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

    • I am sorry to say BUT this is going on in the work place and it probably the parent of the bullies I see it every day and how hard it is for parents to tell there child to stand up to that bully when they have to take it or lose there job A BULLY SHOULD HAVE NO RIGHT AT ANY AGE AND SCHOOL SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIABLE once its been reported there should not be a second report and YES if my child was a bully I still think the same after 50 yrs I still feel the pain

  32. 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.

    • In my opinion this situation is very dangerous . Please go to the police station and fill a report against these kids for bulling and threatening your daughter. Protect your daughter seeking legal action . School wont protect your daughter like them do trust me. . You posted this long time ago ,I hope you already reported them.

      • That’s the same thing that’s happening to my 9 year old daughter. they punch her in the face for no apparent reason. the principal just telling me that she’s going to send notes with the students and try to keep them away from each other. but guess what my daughter end up in a psychiatric hospital for kids because she wanted to hurt herself and now she’s afraid to go to school. She is on medicine for anxiety so please get help.

  33. 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?

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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?

  37. 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?

  38. 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.

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