Please note that this is not legal advice. See our disclaimer.
If you are the parent of a special education or special needs child, you know that your son or daughter can often be the target of pranks, heckling or just plain bullying. These acts can create an atmosphere of fear, leading your child to either perform poorly or simply resist attending school. You can’t be with them all the time, so what can you do? How can you bring these incidents to the attention of school officials and the school district? What measures can you take to minimize the bullying of your child?
One of the first challenges when seeking to protect your child from bullying is actually recognizing that it is happening. Frequently, children who are being bullied will be reluctant to admit they are being targeted, as it can cause fear and anxiety to resurface. Some of the signs you can look for if your child has not confided in you are:
- Missing school supplies
- Damaged clothing or unexplained physical injuries
- Mood swings, emotional outbursts or difficulty sleeping
- Continued attempts to avoid school, such as recurring illness
- Failure to tell you about school or teacher conferences, or attempts to keep you from talking to school officials
- Refusal to use bathroom facilities at school
If you suspect bullying, the first thing you should do is talk to your child. You may want to bring up the subject while you are engaged in some other activity, so that your child does not feel “put on the spot.” Using “I” statements can be extremely helpful, such as “I notice that you have been tired or quiet lately.”
If your child will not confide in you, but you still suspect bullying, you should make careful notes about the concerns you have, documenting instances that suggest bullying. Your next step should be to contact your child’s teacher. You may also want to talk with the principal or a counselor. You should request that the school take specific steps to monitor the situation, and to prevent further instances of bullying. If the school fails to offer an acceptable solution, you may also request that your child be placed at a different school, to get them away from the bullying. This may, however, simply expose them to others who will mistreat them.
Contact Hornstine Law, LLC
At Hornstine Law, LLC, we have decades of personal injury experience. Our attorneys work with people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using our knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you get the outcome you want. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at888-652-0384 (in New Jersey at 609-523-2222).