Initiatives and programs aimed at preventing bullying and building a safe and inclusive school culture are most effective when all members of the school community, including parents and caregivers, have a voice in their planning and creation.
By seeking parents’ and caregivers’ input from the outset, as early as possible in the planning process, schools increase the likelihood that they will feel connected and engaged by the initiative or program. Even if few parents and caregivers initially respond to our call for feedback, providing this opportunity signals parents and guardians that their involvement is welcome. Helping parents and caregivers to articulate their needs requires some effort and time, and we may find that the level of response increases with time.
Schools can seek parents’ and caregivers’ input regularly by doing a survey (such as a school climate survey, as mandated by the Ministry) or organizing a focus group. Through such measures, we can gather and compile information about people’s opinions or experiences. Such results can provide valuable insight to guide our planning and decision-making. It is important to devise methods to ensure confidentiality or anonymity as needed. For example, schools can use surveys and focus groups for the following purposes:
- Present a range of approaches and programs aimed at bullying prevention or equity and inclusion. Ask parents and caregivers for their feedback and opinions on these.
- Explore incidents of bullying or experiences of exclusion within the school. For example, a survey about bullying can ask the following questions:
- Has your child experienced bullying?
- How was it dealt with? How could it have been dealt with?
- What can we do differently?
- What is your vision of effective bullying intervention?