A child or parent reports bullying during the parent-teacher conference. Then what? What constitutes bullying? What should a teacher do with this report? Who does the information get shared with? What type of investigation needs to be done? Do you talk with the bully and victim together or separately or both? Should you call in the other parents? How much information can you give them? What are the consequences for bullying?
Is the situation getting better? How do you know? Has it gotten worse? Are you monitoring behaviors ongoing? Maybe the bullying stopped in your classroom, but do you know if it is going on elsewhere?
Do you need to share this report with administration? Does this classify as bullying for the state report? Does this involve a special needs student? Do you have evidence or written statements from either party? How has the student been affected at school? Lower grades? Less participation? Have they been absent more often? Do they need to be referred to outside services? What if there was a physical injury?
School personnel are busy. It is difficult for them to know the right thing to do in every situation, so it is critical for schools to develop clear policies and steps for investigation so all the right information is gathered and shared with the right people and appropriate actions are taken to proactively resolve incidents before they escalate.
Does your school have a clear procedure for investigating incidents of bullying and harassment? If you do, do you know if your teachers and staff have read the policy and understand their individual responsibilities? How are you ensuring this procedure is followed?
To learn how a leading school district is working to improve their ongoing investigation process, click here to listen to Tulsa Public School’s Student Services Director, Tenna Whitsel, discuss their efforts.