Fear and Self-Blame

When their children are involved in a bullying situation, parents and caregivers from marginalized populations may quickly leap to positions of guilt and self-blame, believing it is their fault. These feelings, common to many parents and caregivers facing such a situation, are exacerbated by the prejudice and discrimination they have faced and may have internalized.

They may be filled with fear at the thought of contacting the school, worried they will be blamed or labelled as a “bad parent”. This fear and self-blame may in some cases lead to a defensive lashing out, or to reflexively blaming the teacher or the school. That said, it is crucial to take the time to explore with parents and caregivers the many legitimate sources of their anger and to find strategies to address this. (See also Dealing With Anger.)

Marginalized parents and caregivers, who struggle with feelings of self-doubt and a lack of confidence, may fear they will make it worse for their child, increasing the risk of bullying if they contact the school. They may worry that the teacher will “take it out” on their child if they feel criticized or if they view the parent or guardian as troublesome. For LGBT parents and guardians, or parents and caregivers of LGBT children, they may fear they will expose their child’s identity (they will be “outed”).

Marginalized parents and caregivers often do not feel they can count on a positive, welcoming reception. They may worry that they will be labelled as a “difficult parent” who is “always complaining”. They may not trust that their concerns will be taken seriously.