9 Steps to Take If You Suspect Bullying at School

By The Understood Team

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Maybe you’ve seen the same child crying at the bus stop for several days in a row. Or perhaps your child has mentioned that certain kids in class are being mean. If a child is a target of repeated and unwanted aggressive behavior from other kids, then there might be bullying at school. If there is, you’re in a position to stop it.


Get the facts.

Talk to your child about what’s been happening, who’s involved, and when and where it’s taken place. You’ll get the most information by using open-ended questions.


Capture the bullying story.

Write down all the details. Try to create a timeline of what occurred when. Review it together. (This may not happen in one sitting.)


Practice telling the story.

Before talking to the school, tell someone else the bullying story. Ask for feedback: Did you stick to the facts? Were you overly emotional?


Review the school’s anti-bullying policy.

Check your child’s student handbook or the school district website for the steps to report bullying. Your state may also have anti-bullying laws and protocol.


Report bullying to the teacher.

Ask if he’s seen bullying and how he responded. Tell him your child’s bullying story, and plan to touch base again within a week.


If bullying continues, contact the principal.

Tell the principal your child’s bullying story, and the teacher’s response. Discuss new incidents. Ask how she plans to handle this, and write it down.


If the bullying still continues two weeks later, contact the superintendent.

Write a timeline of events, including whom you’ve spoken to and what happened afterward. Ask for help in ending the bullying. Save any responses.


No changes at school? Contact the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.

The OCR protects public school students with disabilities from discrimination. You can file a complaint within 60 days after you last speak with your school or district.


If bullying is still happening, contact a lawyer.

A lawyer with experience in education law can help if you’re still not seeing results. Here’s where you can find legal help. Bullying involves a bully, the victim and those who witness it. By being interested in stopping bullying in its tracks, you and your child become part of the solution.

About the Author

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Molly Algermissen

Molly Algermissen, Ph.D., is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.

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