“My 7 year old daughter is being bullied by a neighbor boy in her class. He has choked my daughter and most recently punched her in the face when she got off the bus. There are numerous other instances which are being ignored or avoided by the school. I have never encountered this kind of physical violence against my child before and some of the bullying has taken place outside of school, so I am wondering what I can do or should do to protect my daughter.”

You have asked for some direction and are feeling helpless and confused by the school’s approach to dealing with a student that has been violent toward your children. That is very understandable. It is very worrying to send your children to school each day when you are not sure they will be safe. Sometimes when parents bring their concerns to the school, it may seem as though it hasn’t been heard because there are 20 things going on in the halls or the playground when you are trying to discuss the problem, and the messages get lost. It helps if you create an opportunity to focus on the issue in a quiet place and it emphasizes the importance and urgency of it.

• First, I suggest that you write down the date, time and short detail of every incident you can remember …what happened, who saw it and who intervened.
• Reassure your children by telling them that you believe them when they tell you about an incident, being careful not to escalate their fears but rather to let them know that you will always listen and help them with strategies.
• Make an appointment and meet with the Principal/Vice Principal and bring a copy of the details of your concerns to the meeting.
• Ask the principal to work with you to make a plan to keep your kids safe while riding the school bus and at school both in and out of the classroom. Let him/her know that you understand that the aggressive child must be an on going challenge and there may not be adequate outside support to assist in controlling his behaviour. It helps if you demonstrate that while you understand the challenge, you are not ready to ignore it.
• The plan might include seating the aggressive child at the front of the bus in a seat with a much older child, providing a buddy system for your kids in the playground, and perhaps weekly follow up phone calls from the Principal or teacher to discuss how the plan is working.

If you do not get the help you are looking for you might try involving the superintendent assigned to your school or call the School Board and speak to the Superintendent in charge of Safe Schools and seek advice.