A mom and/or dad concerned about bullying at local schools should know she and/or he can take action to help resolve said issues. On Thursday we at Think Inclusive published insights from anti-bullying speaker Tony Bartoli regarding how educators can work to promote an anti-bullying message (“Anti-Bullying from the Teacher’s Perspective”). Today we examine Bartoli’s advice for parents.
Asked how parents could work to prevent bullying Tony Bartoli stated “Parents can develop support groups and community activities that foster bullying awareness.” He added “Definitely try to involve the school,” warning against inadvertently developing an atmosphere pitting parents versus educators and administrators.
Bartoli certainly sees bullying awareness as a communal endeavor. “Bullying has to be something that is addressed from at times all hands on deck approach, to where parents can connect with other parents. Schools can connect with other schools.”
When building community Bartoli reminds to not forget about the relationship closest to you. “Parents, communicate with your son or daughter. What you do is set the tone ahead of time that we understand bullying is a big issue.” Communication proves vital. “Keep the communication line open. (Say to your child) ‘If you’re getting bullied in school in any way come talk to me because I’m going to do what I can.’”
Doing What You Can
Parents maintain different choices to assist remedying bullying. Bartoli strongly recommended meeting your child up at the school and talking to the administration, “Meet with your son or daughter going to the school and meeting with some of the people in the administration. Say ‘I don’t know if we’ve all heard about this, but I have this situation with my son or daughter that’s very personal to me. Now I want to find out what our next steps are.’”
Beyond the school hierarchy you can leverage the anti-bullying community you built. “What parents can do is communicate with each other, brainstorm, and get ideas. Approach the school.” He expanded on the term “ideas.” “That’s a very big word right there, small in letters but big in effect- ideas. Have ideas flow back and forth from parents.”
Upon anti-bullying ideas coming to fruition, consider sending inquiries to the media. “Approach local media, it may even be just the small community paper. Say ‘We’re parents who want to have our voices heard. We’ve developed this program.’” A little publicity can go a long way.
Reaching Your Last Resort
Unfortunately sometimes you may encounter resistance in your efforts. Perhaps an administrator constantly dismisses your concerns. In such a scenario Bartoli suggests taking your worries to the next level on the school hierarchy. “I say this as a last resort but more parents are doing this, making their voices heard at the local level at the school board meetings.”
He advised “Do it in a constructive way but do it in a way that will address the issue and do it factually.” One way includes sharing specific instances. If that fails, Bartoli brought back up the media. “Go to local media outlets and do what you can to report this to local news stations. They might not do the story but they might.”
The final last resort involves changing schools. Bartoli recalled a mother who ended up taking said action. “She pulled her eighth grade daughter out because the bullying was relentless and she had already gone to the school board.” The mother told Bartoli the breaking point. “She said kids were kicking crutches out from under her (daughter). She said ‘No way! Tony these students need to learn empathy.’”
A Final Plea from Tony Bartoli
Tony Bartoli ended our interview with a plea to not just parents but all adults involved in education. “Teachers, parents, schools, administrators, local school boards, listen because it’s out there and if we just shut down or say that our way is the best way, these kids are going to shut down. We don’t want that.”
For more about Tony Bartoli visit www.tonyb4hope.com.
*Image courtesy of Christopher Hayes, Wikimedia Commons