Safety First

When a parent or caregiver whose child has been bullied contacts us for help, we all understand that the safety of the bullied child needs to be our first priority and will be their main concern. Parents and caregivers will want to be apprised of any immediate action we take to ensure this.

We may want to take steps to ensure that the bullied student’s anonymity is maintained. If that is not possible, we can inform parents and caregivers of the measures we will take to ensure their child’s safety. Whenever possible, we can involve and consult them as well as the student in identifying such measures. Parents and caregivers may feel reassured to know that we will act quickly in the short term to reduce or eliminate contact between the student who is being targeted and the student who is engaging in bullying behaviour.

In some instances, particularly for marginalized parents, caregivers or children, fear for their children’s safety may be so great that they refuse to reveal the student’s identity. Accommodation and flexibility backed up by clear and effective policies and procedures are elements of a respectful, reassuring and equitable response.

The safety of the student who is bullied is both a short-term and an ongoing priority. In addition to an immediate response that addresses parents’ and caregivers’ concerns, an action plan can identify, articulate, assess and re-assess strategies that aim to achieve this goal. (See Problem-solving Together.)