Does your child stop a negative behavior after the first and only time you tell him or her not to do something? Or do you need to revisit certain misbehavior, address issues more than once, etc.?
For most parents, at some point they have to discuss a particular misbehavior more than once over a period of time. This is frustrating for parents, but it is normal.
It should therefore not be surprising that simply because a teacher or principal addresses a bullying situation in school, the issue may rear its ugly head more than one time. Just as when our own children do not immediately cease misbehavior at home after the first time they’re called on the carpet for their conduct, the same circumstances frequently exist in our schools.
Frustrated Parents May Wrongly Perceive School Inaction
While working with a Texas school district in the past month, I had the opportunity to facilitate a community meeting where parents, educators, students, and others shared their school safety concerns and recommendations. Bullying was a topic on the mind of several parents.
One parent shared her frustration and perception that school staff were “not doing anything” about bullying in her child’s case. The district’s superintendent, a bright and caring man who has served as a school principal and career educator, made an interesting reflection to this parent:
“Just because a problem does not stop immediately does not mean school staff did not do something about it,” he noted.
This point stood out to me as very insightful. It was said in a supportive, non-defensive mode on the superintendent’s part. But it really hit home with me.
Bullying is typically a chronic behavior by the perpetrators and often is done to the same victim(s). It is not always something which simply goes away after the first intervention by school staff. While the victims and their parents understandably would like the problem to stop after the first time a teacher, counselor, or principal intercedes, the unfortunate reality is multiple interventions may need to occur.
Parent Persistence Pays
My advice to this parent was to be persistent. She should continue to communicate with her child and with school officials. I acknowledged how frustrating this is to a caring and supportive parent, and of course to the student victim, but I also had to be candid by saying it is not surprising if the bullying behaviors do not immediately cease upon the first intervention.
Bullying is typically a recurring problem. Parents often believe educators are ignoring bullying because the problem does not go away immediately after a parent and/or student reports it to school officials.
As the Texas superintendent indicated, parents need to recognize that because a problem does not immediately go away does not mean school staff did not do something. Parents must know up front that while they and their children may be frustrated, they should not give up or assume school staff will do nothing if a bullying incident occurs more than once.
The education system can understandably be frustrating, and perhaps even intimidating, to some parents. In my previous post on, “Steps Parents Can Take to Address School Safety Concerns,” I outlined a series of progressive steps parents may want to consider in working with school officials.
Parent persistence pays. Persistence by school staff is also critical. Our children’s mental and physical health depend upon it.
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