SCHOOL BULLYING - A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE (PAPER TWO)
You might wonder why I have not given you a definition of school bullying by now. Yes, it is intentional on my part. By the end of my series, you might be able to come up with your own definition of school bullying, after learning the various examples of "bullying". But, I promise, I will ultimately give you a definition.
In my previous paper, I mentioned about taking notes. Your written record will form a good foundation for making complaints, or for taking legal action if found necessary. The fact that your child has austistic characteristics such as speech difficulty or inhibited behaviour, the obtaining of information relating to the bullying incident or incidents may be difficult. Hence you as parents may have to rely on persons who have witnessed the incident(s). If you are stuck with any progress in getting more people to support your child`s version of the incident, then stop there. Investigation work may not be something you are able to deal with. We will talk more about investigation in upcoming papers.
If you as parents think that you have enough information in hand, and if you feel that you want to make a complaint to the school without delay, then go ahead with the complaint. You have made notes, and you do not worry about forgetting details, so tell the school everything you know, and hopefully the school will conduct an investigation on their own. The school owes you as parents a duty to inform you what they think of the incident and what action they intend to take.
The complaint can be in writing. It is strongly recommended that you should write a letter to the headmaster of the school. Please make a copy of what you wrote.
If writing a letter to the headmaster is scary business for you, then try to make an appointment to talk to him or her, or simply talk to the class teacher first. Whether you choose to talk to the headmaster or class teacher, or both, make sure you write down what you had told them and what they had said to you. There is no rush to come to any conclusion as to the true version of the "bullying" incident, you should wait and see what they say.
If the school does not wish to listen to your complaint, or if you are not satisified with the result of their investigation, or if you are not satisfied with what the school has suggested after their investigation, then there are other things we can do that I will explain in the upcoming papers.
How about complaining the bullying incident to the parent(s) of the suspected "bully"? This maybe a bit tricky because it is reasonably expected that parent(s) of the suspected "bully" will react to your complaint in a way that you won`t feel comfortable with:
Parent A: "My child has told me that your child took away my child`s belongings such as pencils and eraser?"
Parent B: "Why would my child take away your child`s stuff? Are you sure that`s what he told you? Isn`t that he can`t speak properly?"
Think about this scenario for a moment; it is already difficult for someone who has a child possessing austistic sypmtoms, it would be heart-breaking to hear from some parent of a suspected "bully" to have said this to you. If the verbal complaint does not work, then try writing to the parent(s). If we have no idea where they live, where is the letter sent to? We may explore ways in the upcoming articles as to how we are going to get that letter reaches the parent(s) of the "bully".
In my next paper, we will talk about what other evidence will help strengthen your child`s version of the bullying event. And after that, we will explore ways how we shall try make the school prevent your child from further bullying, so that your child`s therapy will not be impeded any further.