Schools have the responsibility of keeping our children safe during the school day and parents have the right to be a partner in that effort. Parent Action for Healthy Kids has released these 10 important questions for parents to ask the principal to ensure their child’s school is bully-free.
1. Can parents view a copy of the district’s Anti-Bullying Policy?
Note: A critical section in an anti-bullying policy would cover the procedure for reporting bullying and how the report is investigated by the school.
2. Has the school completed a staff and student survey to assess the level of bullying and other aggressive behavior?
3. Does the school have a team identified to review the survey results and to look at evidence-based solutions that will be sustained long-term?
4. Who is on the team, and does it include a broad representation of parents?
5. Has all staff received training on bullying prevention? This includes every adult who interacts with the children (custodians, bus drivers, secretaries, food service, etc.)
6. Is the training focused on giving adults the skills necessary to intervene effectively with aggression and create a positive environment?
7. Has a behavioral chart (often called a rubric) been developed that lists the consequences earned for choosing aggressive or bullying behavior?
8. What formal instruction are the children receiving on how to behave? In other words, where, and how, is social-emotional skill development being taught? Note: This would generally occur through a comprehensive health education class using curricula such as the Michigan Model for Health® K-12.
9. Does the school use a positive behavior approach to intervening with mean/hurtful behavior (e.g., helping the aggressor reflect on how he/she has caused harm) versus a punitive approach (e.g., suspending)?
10. Does the school offer workshops or resources to help a parent support their child whether they are the target of bullying, the aggressor or the bystander?
Source: Barb Flis, Founder of Parent Action for Healthy Kids, and Kathy Gibson, Safe & Healthy Schools Consultant, Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency
Barb Flis, Founder of Parent Action for Healthy Kids, understands that every parent has the power to make a difference in their child’s life. Barb is an advocate for parents, a published parenting and children’s health expert and, most importantly, the mother of two daughters. Her focus lies in connecting families, schools and communities for the purpose of promoting the well-being of children’s social, emotional and physical health. Areas of work include sex education, mental health, physical education, nutrition, wellness, asthma, and diabetes. She designs and implements training and workshops for parents, teachers, school administrators, public health professionals and community-based organizations. Also a respected motivational speaker, Barb has presented throughout her home state of Michigan and across the United States. For more information, visit the Parent Action for Healthy Kids website at http://www.parentactionforhealthykids.org.