Lauren Seager-Smith urges schools and parents to work together to stop bullying
By Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO, Kidscape
When it's school versus parents the child always loses.
The majority of calls to our parent advice line involve a situation where a parent feels a school has let them down, and are not taking bullying seriously. Of course what we don't get is calls about schools that have done a brilliant job - so this is not about schools that do care and pull out all the stops to stop bullying.
This is about those situations where the school and the parent are caught up in a war of words, while the child wants desperately for it all to stop and life to go back to normal. While I have talked for years about the importance of robust anti-bullying policies and school complaints procedures, nothing can replace just sorting a situation out. This is what the child wants and needs.
The alternative to this can be families taking matters into their own hands such as turning to social media (for example, this story from last month in Kent). One desperate parent in the US is faced criminal proceedings because she armed her child with an audio recorder to take into school to prove the bullying, and I have talked to parents in the UK who have considered this. We have also been told of a rise in parents turning to law firms to take action over school response to bullying - and in the midst of all this anger and recrimination, again the child is lost.
It shouldn't be this hard. Good practice is when the door is always open, when the child, parent and teacher sit together and come up with a plan. When the conversation is not about who is right or wrong, but how are we going to make sure the bullying stops and this child we all care about is safe? It really is that simple, but we make it so complicated.
Parent Advice Line
Guidance and support for parents and carers of children facing a bullying situation. Call 020 7823 5430 Mon-Thurs, 9am-1pm (calls charged at local rate)
You can also email the Parent Support Adviser.