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Engage Parents & Youth
School staff can do a great deal to prevent bullying and protect students, but they can’t do it alone. Parents and youth also have a role to play in preventing bullying at school. One mechanism for engaging parents and youth, a school safety committee, can bring the community together to keep bullying prevention at school active and focused.
Research shows that school administrators, such as principals, can play a powerful role in bullying prevention. They can inspire others and maintain a climate of respect and inclusion. But a principal cannot do it alone. When parents and youth are involved in the solutions:
- Students feel safer and can focus on learning.
- Parents worry less.
- Teachers and staff can focus on their work.
- Schools can develop more responsive solutions because students are more likely to see or hear about bullying than adults.
- School climate improves because students are engaged in taking action to stop bullying.
- Parents can support schools’ messages about bullying at home. They are also more likely to recognize signs that a child has been bullied or is bullying others.
Schools can set the stage for meaningful parent and youth involvement, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Parents and youth need to feel valued and be given opportunities to contribute their expertise. To sustain parent and youth involvement, schools need to provide meaningful roles for them. For example:
- Students can contribute their views and experiences with bullying. They can take leadership roles in school to promote respect and inclusion, communicate about bullying prevention with their peers, and help develop rules and policies.
- Parents can contribute to a positive school climate through the parent teacher association, volunteering, and school improvement events.
- School staff can keep parents informed, make them feel welcome, and treat them as partners. Schools can consider identifying a school coordinator to support parent and youth engagement strategies. Schools can set meeting times that are convenient for parents and youth and may consider additional incentives such as providing dinner or child care.
A school safety committee—a small group of people focused on school safety concerns—is one strategy to engage parents and youth, as well as others, in bullying prevention. The following people can make positive contributions to a school safety committee:
- Administrators can answer questions about budget, training, curriculum, and federal and state laws such as Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Inventive, respected teachers with strong classroom and “people” skills can give insights.
- Other school staff, such as school psychologists, counselors, school nurses, librarians, and bus drivers, bring diverse perspectives on bullying.
- Parents can share the family viewpoint and keep other parents in the loop on committee work.
- Students can bring fresh views and help identify real-life challenges to prevention.
- Other community stakeholders, such as police officers, clergy members, elected officials, and health care providers can provide a broader perspective.
The primary activities of the school safety committee could be to:
- Plan bullying prevention and intervention programs. Set measurable and achievable goals.
- Implement a bullying prevention effort. Meet often enough to keep momentum and address barriers.
- Develop, communicate, and enforce bullying prevention policies and rules.
- Educate the school community about bullying to ensure everyone understands the problem and their role in stopping it.
- Conduct school-wide bullying assessments and review other data, such as incident reports.
- Evaluate bullying prevention efforts and refine the plan if necessary.
- Advocate for the school’s work in bullying prevention to the entire school community.
- Sustain the effort over time.
This committee is not a forum for discussing individual student behaviors. Doing so is a violation of student privacy under FERPA. There are also FERPA considerations for assessments, particularly if personally identifiable information is collected.