Importance of documentation when going to authorities about bullying

BullyingEditor’s Note: One of the mini themes in this month’s ASDigest is the subject of bullying. This week we take a look at various issues around bullying and autism.

Having your child try to handle bullying on his own is not usually the best route to take for children on the autism spectrum. If your child is being constantly bullied without a reprieve, the situation may be escalating.

If there are threats of physical behavior or physical assault by the bully, you need to take action. When you’ve tried every avenue you can think of to stop your child from being bullied, it’s time to get the school involved.

First, if the bullying is from a classmate, you should tell the teacher what’s going on and see if he or she is able to put a stop to the bullying. If the issue is not with a classmate but a student in the school, have a meeting with the school counselor and the principal jointly. If that fails to bring results, contact the State Board of Education.

But before you take further steps, you’re going to make sure you have your documentation in place. You’ll want to establish a timeline of the bullying incidents. Have notes written out for what day the incidents took place and the location of the incidents.

Don’t just write down ‘at school’ but write down exactly where your child was – like in the boys’ restroom inside the North gym, for example. Also write down how often the bullying incidents occurred. Were they a weekly, daily or multiple times during the day event?

Make notes of who saw the bullying happen. If the bully had his or her friends also taking part in the bullying, write down who these kids were and what their actions were – even if it was just to serve as a bystander.

Also keep notes on who you spoke with and what actions they took to try and handle the matter. Your child’s school is legally obligated to educate your child in a way that does not jeopardize him mentally, emotionally or physically.

If you can show that the school has not taken the proper precautions and refuses to address the situation to stop the bullying, you have the right to contact the police and file a report yourself. If the bullying has reached the point where it’s become physical, it may fall under a stricter penalty under the laws of your state.

Bullying can take a toll on the victim as well as the victim’s family. As a parent, you have the right to request that your child be allowed to change classes to get away from the bullying.

You have the right to request the bully be removed from the school bus if the incidents took place there. You also have the right to request that your child change school districts.

If the school district has refused to take the bullying seriously, you have the right to and should hire an attorney. Your child has the right to an education free from bullying. You have the right to hire an attorney to seek compensation from the school for you and your child’s emotional suffering.

Editor’s note:  For simplicity, we are using a male gender in the article but girls as just as easily to be victims of bullying as boys.
If you have a child who has been bullied and it has lasted for awhile, it’s important to have him speak to a counselor who can help him sort through his emotions. If you have a child who has bullied others, it’s important that he’s also counseled in order to learn better coping skills and proper social interaction.

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