Dear ADDitude: Why Is the School Blaming My Child for Being Bullied?
“My son says he is being bullied in school. I talked to the principal, who said my son was getting bullied because of his ‘weird’ behavior. What is my next step?”
Check out your school’s policy toward bullying. There should be a written policy in place. If there isn’t, attend a school board meeting and propose a written anti-bullying policy. The website stopbullying.gov gives information on model policies.
Make sure your child knows where he can go when the bullying occurs — telling a teacher or aide. Help him understand the difference between tattling and asking for assistance. Share with the principal the negative consequences of bullying, and request assistance in solving this problem. It is not acceptable to dismiss your concerns and blame the victim. If the principal is not willing to help, it’s time to contact your school board or administrator. The school guidance counselor could be instrumental in helping, as well as educating teachers and school officials about ways to spot and stop bullying.
Talk to your child’s teacher directly. Ask, without accusations, how she could stop the bullying. Ask for her help in making your child feel comfortable and accepted at school. If these incidents are occurring at lunch or recess, see if an aide or teacher can be present to keep an eye on what is going on.
Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance writer, author specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and autism
[Free Resource: 14 Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends]
I have bounced my son around to many schools over the years, desperately looking for a learning environment where he can be successful, only to fail worse. Two charter schools treated him as though he was just lazy and defiant. One private school decided they “didn’t know how to teach him,” and booted us after just 6 weeks. Public schools have been best, although still not good. Special ed and regular classroom teachers just don’t have the time to help our kids as they need. That doesn’t excuse it, as a tailored education plan is required by law for special needs students, but it’s reality nonetheless. Unfortunately, there aren’t any schools specifically for kids with ADHD, autism, or LDs in our area — that would be fantastic!
Here are a couple articles about alternative schools for kids with ADHD:
How a New School Changed My Daughter’s Life
Schools That Work: Community High
Keep fighting. It’s very much against the law for them to treat your son the way they do. Stop having phone conversations and start conversing via email, so everything they say and do is in writing. And in these communications, show them you know your son’s rights, how the school is breaking the law, and what recourse you have (due process, complaint with US Dept of Civil Rights, etc).
And finally, here are some myths and facts about special ed law.
Posted by Penny
ADDitude community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism
A Reader Answers
“His weird behavior.”
That’s a red flag. When I hear comments like this I wonder if the school understands ADHD or, for that matter, any diversity. Moreover, the idea that being bullied is justified is disgusting. There is no justification for bullying at any time ever. So that comment too is startling and telling. When I was a school principal I interfered with bullying instantly and constantly.
It seems to me as though he is in the wrong school.
You would be very wise to take your lawyer with you to your next meeting. And good for you that you had the wit to realize that your son needs strong advocacy. Your post is just the right length. You’ve come to the right place.
Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach
[In This House, We Don’t Tolerate Bullying]
A Reader Answers
That he has been suspended so many times and the school has not learned that that is not the answer is alarming and sad. Having an advocate was very comforting to me as I started the IEP process.
Posted by 20Beth13
A Reader Answers
I did a quick search and found this guide, written for attorneys. It may help you as well.
Posted by Takeoutchick
A Reader Answers
Here is how I got the school to take notice and deal with the bully who was targeting my son.
Every time he was bullied, I made him, my son, who is in third grade sit down and write out an account of exactly what happened during. This account included the date, the time, the location, exactly what was done (i.e. he made fists and held them up in front of his body) and exactly what was said. He said, “I’m going to kill you.” Then, in his own words, my son wrote down how this made him feel and exactly what he wanted the bully to do. (i.e. I feel threatened and I want _____ to leave me alone).
After he wrote out his account, he took it to school and read it to the teacher, who in this case then sent it to the principal. After two of these accounts were sent, the bullying stopped.
It sounds like a lot of work, I know, but it places the child in the position of power and makes him responsible and not just a victim.
I hope this information is helpful to you.
Posted by SueH
A Reader Answers
I had an issue with some serious bullying with my daughter in middle school. I went through proper channels and was told by the principal — and I quote — “I fail to see what these boys did wrong.” So after more incidents and police involvement, including a mob of kids attacking my vehicle with my children inside, I took my daughter out of that school and enrolled her at another school because I could not even get the superintendent to contact back on the issue. I finally reported it to the Office of Civil Rights and got training and stuff for staff and the whole school.
My suggestion is to file a complaint with the OCR and if you have to, threaten them with a lawsuit. Come in armed with laws and show them that you know your rights! Ask them for access to your child’s whole educational file and take pictures of every page in it, as well as asking for copies of the whole file – including the folder itself. They have to give it to you. You have the right to access that at any time! Don’t let them bully you! I have had too many experiences with that. My daughter has a 504 and my youngest son has an IEP that I had to fight for that, even with the proper diagnosis. The schools always try to tell you that you are wrong. Ask them for their certification in child psych. Knowledge is power. Good luck.
Posted by Saxon’s mom