SCHOOL BULLYING – A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE (PAPER THREE)
Soiled clothes, torn shirts, scratches on skin, personal belongings lost. Let us pause there for a moment. I am not going to continue the list of clues that may show that your child had had an unpleasant day at school.
We shall talk about physical evidence. When we were young, I remember, the first thing when adults saw dirty school uniform, they would quickly soak the dirty shirt or pants in soap and water. Or when grandma saw a torn shirt, she might have picked up the sewing kit and begun to do stiches onto the shirt. Some adult at home would probably yell out and say “what had made the clothes so dirty?” And if we didn`t say anything and hid ourselves behind the sofa, that would be the end of it. At the end of the day, no evidence was left, and no one talked about what happened.
Do not wash or throw away the evidence, if you can. Keep them in a box or paper bag. (Has it crossed your mind lately that you shouldn`t throw away the paper box that housed the new pair of sneakers you bought for your precious one, because you want to be part of the campaign to protect the environment.) If the dirty trousers or torn shirt can support the “bullying” incident, just keep the clothes UNTOUCHED until the time you need to prove your case.
Who`s going to look at a soiled uniform? When the school or the teachers ask for proof of a bullying incident, you will have something “solid” to show. Teachers nowadays are trained to be more observant and inquisitive. It is hoped that the school staff will take notice of the torn shirt or dirty trousers before the parents do. And it is hoped that some sort of inquiry has already started by the school, by the time you arrive to pick up your child. Don’t forget your golden opportunity to get the story from your child and to ask around to find out what had gone wrong at school.
I have mentioned about taking notes in my previous papers. The notes would come from what you saw and what you had been told. Hopefully, your child can give an accurate description of the “bullying” incident. If what other people tell you is supporting your child`s version of the story, that would be even better.
What If your helper picks up your child from school, or simply waits at the location where your child is dropped off from the school bus? The evidence of a fight or a scuffle or a damage to property would only come to the parents` attention when the child gets home. Wouldn`t it be proper to instruct your helper(s) to inform you anything unusual she has noticed, before the clothes are washed or thrown away? The magic word is to be OBSERVANT. Don`t miss the opportunity to strengthen your child`s version of the bullying incident. If your child has Autistic Spectrum Disorder and has trouble in describing how he or she was being bullied at school, it is important to keep the physical evidence for as long as you can. The magic word is to be OBSERVANT.
Didn`t we talk about in previous papers that we should talk to the school. Make an appointment with the head teacher or the headmaster. Bring the soiled dress or torn shirt to see them. Make sure you`ve made photos of the evidence, because when the school wants to take it away for investigation, give them photos or let them take photos for record, but don’t let them take away something you need to prove your case.
In my next paper, we will talk about what should be done and said at the meeting with the school representatives, in case you are able to get an appointment to see them. We will also discuss what can be done if no one from the school wants to see you. (Hopefully this won`t happen.)