5 Steps to Effectively Advocate for A Child That is Being Bullied

PA and Federal Law state that the school must attempt to stop the harassment if the student is being targeted because they are in a "protected class." To see what these protected classes are click here.... School's can add additional protections. School districts are required to post their anti-bullying policies publicly. 

  • Check the office lobby or ask the office secretary.
    Google: Your child's school or district name and 'bullying policy."
    Email the school principal and ask for a copy of their policy including information on how to make an official report.

**It is essential that you report bullying incidents the way that your school district requires.**

Identify the school and district bullying policy

  • Designation one central place to keep track of all bullying incidents and any conversations you have on the topic such as a designated notebook or notetaking app on your phone or computer.

  • From the moment you find out about the bullying, you will want to keep very detailed notes.

    • The date you learned about the incident (this could be right after or days later).

    • What happened, be specific.

    • Student's involved, if known, if not included a description.

    • When it happened (Tuesday, date, after lunch on the way to 2nd period).

    • Where it occurred (3rd floor hallway, in the locker room, etc.)

    • Were there any bystanders? Include their names if known.

    • Did your child tell anyone? If so, who?

  • Make a folder in your email to keep all interactions regarding the bullying.​


Gather details and create a report

Consistently report all incidents

  • Follow guidelines provided in the school or district's policy or following the principal's guidance.

  • Email the appropriate person and include details you gathered for your report. If you prefer to call to make a report, follow up with an email providing all the details you have gathered and recap what the person you talked with said to you for instance, "I look forward to hearing from you by the end of the day tomorrow as we discussed when we spoke this afternoon." 

  • If you feel like your child's safety is at risk let them know you would like an emergency meeting to develop a plan that ensures their safety during their investigation. 

  • If your child has a 504 plan or IEP you can ask for a team meeting to discuss how this incident can/is affecting your child's education. 

  • Be sure to take the reports you have gathered, a list of what you want to talk about at the meeting and your suggestions of how to resolve the issue. 

  • Take notes of who is at the meeting.

  • After the meeting send the school an email stating what happened at the meeting and what was agreed upon (keep this in your dedicated folder).

  • Regularly check in with your child during the entire process. Assure them you are on their side and you believe them; you want them to feel comfortable telling you arising details but even more importantly they need a safe outlet, so they do not feel the need to bottle anything up. 

  • Keep them informed of what's happening. Children often assume the worst so give them a brief overview of any meetings you attend and the results. The situation may take a while to resolve but it's important that they hear this from you as it builds trust.

  • Closely monitor their behavior for unusual changes, Are they suddenly not going out to play basketball, or are they withdrawing from family life? These can be signs of depression or anxiety. 

  • Inform their therapist about the situation and encourage your child to talk to them about the bullying and how they feel. If they do not have a therapist, this is a good time to look for one, even if they seem fine. 

Ensure your child's emotional well being

When is it time to escalate it, and how do you do it?

  • Is your school taking these issues seriously and handling them appropriately?

  • Does the bullying fall into any of these categories:

    • Severe

    • Regular

    • Impeeding their education or access to education 

  • To escalate, gather your evidence including copies of the reports you have created, copies of all emails and notes you have made of the conversations and meetings that took place. Here is a list of places that may be able to help you: 

    1. The Bullying Prevention Consultation Line: 1-866-716-0424 ** You will be prompted to leave a message and your phone number.   They will call you back generally within 48 hours so keep your phone handy.**​

    2. A trusted attorney or look for an attorney who specializes in education issues. Many offer  a one hour consultation for a small fee. They can advise you if you have a case or other steps to take. 

    3. PA Human Relations Commission

    4. The Office of Civil Rights