It's almost halfway through the school year. By now, cliques have been formed, best friends have been forged, and "enemies" have been made. Bullying in all forms — physical, emotional, and cyber bullying — occurs in all schools, all over the nation, which understandably concerns parents. But are schools required to actually report bullying to parents? It likely depends on your school and your state — and just how proactive they are in eradicating such a terrible thing from their schools.
Bullying is awful. According to Pacer's National Bullying Center, one in every four students reports being bullied during the school year. Studies also find that 64 percent of children who were bullied do not report it — only 36 percent reported the bullying. And while it might look like a much smaller problem than it has been — according to U.S. News & World Report, bullying is down sharply from over a decade ago. But yet it still remains a huge issue. According to U.S. News & World Report, bullying is a "serious public health problem" and "not a normal part of childhood." But a recent study has found, according to U.S. World News and Report, that zero-tolerance policies — where kids are suspended for bullying — do not work. Instead, it begins with teaching children how to get along with one another and starts with their parents.
Still, in order for parents to help with specific issues, they have to actually know whether it's a problem in their child's school or not — and whether your kid's school administrators tell you about it really does depend on your state and the rules and policies put in place to prevent bullying at that specific learning center.
According to Stop Bullying, there is no federal law that directly addresses bullying. But state and local governments do, according to The Bully Project. The full laws from each state vary on what schools should do once bullying is reported to them. Some are very brief and others are pretty extensive. The different policies and procedures for bullying from each state can be viewed here. Some states, like Connecticut, require schools to notify the parents of the bully and the bullying victims no later than 24 hours after the incident occurred and communicate with them the measures being taken by the school to prevent bullying. But according to the National Association of State Board of Education, states like Louisiana do not mention parents anywhere in their anti-bullying laws.
If you, as a parent, are unsure of whether or not your child's school is required to report bullying, call the superintendent's office or your child's school and ask what their procedure is. Even if the law requires schools in some states to report bullying to parents, it doesn't actually mean that they're doing it all of the time. If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, talk to your child's teacher and let them know you'd like to be notified about incidents involving your child. That way, if your child is being bullied or is bullying someone, you will be notified — regardless of whether or not your state or school has set rules in place.