How Much Information about Bullies Should a School Provide?
"I am a special education teacher. A child with disabilities was the victim of bullies. The bullies faced consequences, including their parents being called.
Wouldn't you want to know who the bullies are? Do they live in your neighborhood? Do they live on your street? Do they ride the bus with your child? Do they attend the same classes?
Exactly what did the bullies do to your child? How long did the bullying go on? Who knew about it? When did they know? Whom did they tell?
What punishment did the bullies receive from the school? What steps has the school taken to ensure that your child will not experience bullying again?
Now, imagine that the school staff told you, "the consequences including their parents being called." Nothing more.
The bullying took place at school. As a parent, you have a right to know who bullied your child, what they did, who knew about it, how long it went on, how the school dealt with the bullies, what punishment, if any, was meted out, and what the school is doing to ensure that your child will be safe.
If the school refuses to provide this information, will you feel confident that school personnel will protect your child in the future? If you return your child to school, will you feel confident that your child will be safe?
How can bullies be viewed as "victims" because you as the parent need information and straight answers before you can have any confidence that your child will be safe at school?
If the school refused to provide this information and assurances that your child will be safe from bullies, would you lose trust in the school's willingness to protect your child?
Trust is fragile. Once trust is broken, it may never be regained.
Change the facts. Your child attends a summer camp. He was severely beaten up by another camper and hospitalized. Camp officials refused to release any information about the aggressor and what steps they took, if any.
Change facts again. Your child was assaulted at the local mall. The mall security were involved. Security did not notify you, nor did they call the police. You didn't know about the assault until your child walked in the door and told you.
As a parent, how would you feel about this? Would you be satisfied?
This perception may close to reality.
Students Have Limited Rights to Privacy
In a 2002 case about privacy of education records, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that students do not have a right to privacy when students grade papers. That case is Owasso Indep Sch. Dist. v. Falvo, parent and next friend of her minor children (you can read the decision on Findlaw.com)
Read more about Privacy, Confidentiality, and Education Records.
Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools. Grounded in research and extensive experience in schools, this book describes practical ways to combat bullying at the school, class, and individual levels with step-by-step strategies for developing school- and districtwide policies.
Author Barbara Coloroso describes a deadly triad - bullies who terrorize, bullied kids who are afraid to tell, bystanders who watch, participate, or look away - and adults who dismiss the incidents as a "normal part of childhood."
This book describes three kinds of bullying; steps to take if your child is a bully; four abilities to protect your child; how to help a bullied child heal and effectively discipline the bully; and how to evaluate your school's anti-bullying policy.
Although the Bullying Prevention Handbook is described as "a guide for principals, teachers and counselors," it is recommended for parents as well. Concerned, informed parents are often a necessary catalyst for schools to implement effective violence-prevention programs.