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5 Steps
to Effectively Advocate for a Child Who is Being Bullied


Identify the school and district bullying policy

PA and federal law state that the school must attempt to stop the harassment if the student is being targeted because they are in a "protected class." To see what these protected classes are click here. Schools can add additional protections. School districts are required to post their anti-bullying policies publicly. 

  • Check the office lobby or ask the office secretary.

  • Google: Your child's school or district name and "bullying policy."

  • Email the school principal and ask for a copy of their policy including information on how to make an official report.

**It is essential that you report bullying incidents the way that your school district requires.**



Gather details and create a report

Designate one central place to keep track of all bullying incidents and any conversations you have on the topic such as a designated notebook or notetaking app on your phone or computer.

From the moment you find out about the bullying, you will want to keep very detailed notes. Include:

  • The date you learned about the incident (this could be right after or days later).

  • What happened. Be specific.

  • The names of students involved, if known. Otherwise include a description.

  • When it happened (e.g., Tuesday, date, after lunch on the way to 2nd period).

  • Where it occurred (3rd floor hallway, in the locker room, etc.).

  • Were there any bystanders? Include their names if known.

  • Did your child tell anyone? If so, who?

Make a folder in your email to keep all interactions regarding the bullying.​

  • Make sure to keep the sent emails. Go into your "sent" folder and move them over to your “bullying incident” folder.

School Teacher


Consistently report all incidents

Follow the guidelines provided in the school or district’s policy or follow the principal's guidance.

  • Click here for detailed tips on how to write an impactful and professional letter to your child’s school. This will help you develop the tone of a “rational, thoughtful parent who is expressing valid concerns.”

Email the appropriate person and include the details you gathered for your report. If you prefer to call to make a
report, follow up with an email providing all the details you have gathered and recap what the person you talked with
said to you. For example, “I look forward to hearing from you by the end of the day tomorrow as discussed when we
spoke this afternoon.”


If you feel like your child’s safety is at risk, let them know you would like an emergency meeting to develop a plan
that ensures you child's safety during the investigation. Check out this guidance from the Education Law Center for a safety plan template.

If your child has a 504 plan or IEP you can ask for a team meeting to discuss how this incident can/is affecting your
child’s education.

* Be sure to take the reports you have gathered, a list of what you want to talk about at the meeting and your
suggestions of how to resolve this issue.

  • Take notes of who is at the meeting.

  • After the meeting send the school an email stating what happened at the meeting and what was agreed upon

(keep this in your dedicated folder).


Ensure your child’s emotional well-being

  • Regularly check in with your child during the entire process. Assure them you are on their side and you believe them. You want them to feel comfortable telling you arising details, but even more importantly they need a safe outlet so they do not feel the need to bottle anything up.

  • Keep them informed of what’s happening. Children often assume the worst, so give them a brief overview of any meetings you attend and the results. The situation may take awhile to resolve, but it’s important that they hear this from you as it builds trust.

  • Closely monitor their behavior for unusual changes. Are they suddenly not going out to play basketball, or are they withdrawing from family life? These can be signs of depression or anxiety.


  • Inform their therapist about the situation and encourage your child to talk to them about the bullying and how they feel. If they do not have a therapist, this is a good time to look for one, even if they seem fine.



When is it time to escalate, and how do you do it?

Is your school not taking these issues seriously or handling them appropriately?

Does the bullying fall into any of these categories:
1. Severe
2. Regular
3. Impeding their education or access to education

To escalate, gather your evidence that includes copies of the reports you have created and copies of all emails and notes
you have made of the conversations and meetings that took place. Here is a list of places that may be able to help


The Bullying Prevention Consultation Line 1-866-716-0424 **You will be prompted to leave a message and your phone number. They will call you back generally within 48 hours, so keep your phone handy. **

Here's what the state's anti-bullying laws say.

Here's what the state's law (Act 26, HB 229 of 2015) says about cyberbullying. 

Look for an attorney who specializes in education issues. Many offer a one hour
consultation for a small fee. They can advise you if you have a case or other steps to take.

PA Human Relations Commission

The Office of Civil Rights

Are you having trouble advocating for your child? Reach out to one of our free and confidential Family Support Partners at 1-888-273-2361 or online here.

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