Wednesday, July 17, 2013


My Child is being Bullied: Now What?

Bullying is a pandemic in our nation's schools. Realizing this, we must do all that we can to help our children deal with the pressures that these annoying behaviors poses on their lives. Parents, we have a huge responsibility, but are we doing all that we can to intervene?

Let me ask these questions

As a parent, are you aware of the anti-bullying laws and policies in place at your child's school? If so, how is it being enforced? If not, have you voiced your concerns and/or asked to work closely with school officials in hope to create anti-bullying procedures at your child's school? Do you know if school officials at your child's school are clear about what actually constitutes bullying behaviors?

In some cases, there are concerns about what constitutes bullying behaviors verses normal play, or friendly horsing around. I know that you have these concerns too, so I'll define what bullying is and what it looks like.

Bullying Defined

Verbal (name calling, teasing, insulting, or threatening)

Physical (hitting, kicking, scratching, pushing, stealing, hiding/destroying someone else's property)

Social (refusing to talk to or play with someone, purposefully excluding someone)

Cyber (using electronics such as computer to write mean, demeaning messages about someone)

There are signs of bullying that you can watch for

Poor eating habits or asking to eat as soon as he/she gets home - bully takes lunch or lunch money


Torn clothes or mysterious bruises/scratches

Isolating self from others - appearing lonely

A change in grades - poor grades

A sudden dislike for school

Exhibiting unfounded anxiety

Low self-esteem

Complaint of sick feelings - stomach aches, headaches

Asking not to go to school

Signs of threats or suicide

If you have reason to believe that your child is being bullied

Stop, Look & Listen NOW

Talk to your child. Ask him/her about their school day. Ask if there is anything that you should know. Whatever you are doing or plan to do, stop! Your child must trust that you will drop whatever you are doing to see him/her through this crisis. Your child needs to know that you are listening to them; you hear their frustration and the pain that they are experiencing. You may want to repeat what you heard them say to you, thereby acknowledging that you are really listening. Let your child know that you will be there for them "at all costs."


Get the story as clearly as possible from your child and document everything from your child's version of the bullying incidents to every conversation you have with school officials. Be sure to write things down as soon as an occurrence arises or a conversation happens. This way, incidents are still fresh in your child's mind. You may want to keep documentation separated by tabs in a tablet or a notebook to maintain a distinct record of each person's story. It will be important to keep your child's version separate from a school official's so that messages don't end up overlapping, getting accidentally mixed-up or combined.

Have other students been affected by the bully or bullies who are attacking your child? If so, what are their names? Were there any witnesses to the incidents? If so, what are their names? Does your child remember which class the other students are enrolled in? Can your child point them out? Encourage school officials to interview other children who may have been bullied.

Use dates, times and settings in your documentation. Did the incident happen in the cafeteria, classroom, or playground? Detailed documentation will not only help school officials target bullying incidents, but it will also give school officials an indication of how best to resolve issues as they examine antecedents (causes/variables that may have prompted the bully to react inappropriately), so that changes and individually tailored support plans can be implemented.

Approach school staff immediately

Bullying will not just stop on its own. Don't be afraid to approach school administrators.

You might find that some school officials and administrators may be territorial and believe that they are the educational experts, and you are "just a parent." Since you are your child's greatest advocate, here are a few ideas about how to approach the issue of your child being bullied while working collaboratively with school officials:

Do your research. You can assist school leaders with ideas of how to bully shield and bully proof the school that your child attends.

Approach the school leaders as if you are on their side. Do what you can to avoid creating an adversarial relationship between you and the people who have the power to help stop what is happening

Let the school leaders know that you are not only concerned about your child, but all children enrolled at the school. This will soften your approach thereby giving you greater lead-in for support and next steps.

Begin speaking to the school counselor before working your way up the organizational chart - Test the water, first.

When my own child was bullied at school, I spoke to the school principal directly. Due to budget cuts, this particular school had no assigned counselor. I approached the situation as a concern for the other child as well as my very own child. I said, "Perhaps this young girl is having personal problems in her home- life that's making her feel angry." Other times I would say, "Sounds like this child wants to take charge and is a bit bossy. Perhaps she can be shown how to use her leadership skills in a more positive and productive manner." By using this approach with the school principal, I believe that I softened the conversation, thereby gaining the principal's attention. It appeared that she was more willing to hear me.

But, there are times when the school will not help, so now what can you do?

Before I address this problem, I want to urge parents to always gather as much information about your school the first week or two of the new school year. This is the time when the climate is still warm and friendly, and stress levels aren't heightened due to the pressures of trying to keep up with everyday school life. Know the district level office organizational chart and levels of administration assigned to your child's campus. Attempt to retrieve their contact information such as names, email addresses, voice mail, and telephone numbers, and perhaps location of their office - this is last resort and never show up without an appointment.

When your child's school will not listen to you or help you through a bullying crisis, and you know that you have done your part, you have spoken to the classroom teacher, school counselor, assistant principal and principal if circumstances have taken you this far, you should contact central office staff and speak to your child's school assigned area superintendent.

Share your concerns and let this individual know that you have tried to work collaboratively with school officials at the campus level of your child's school. Trust me - Now that bullying has gained national attention, there is no doubt that this person will be all ears.

There are approximately 48 states that have laws mandating anti-bullying programs and services in schools, but some schools have been slow in implementing the programs.

Be sure that you know the anti-bullying laws of your state (Bully Police, USA has a state by state listing of anti-bullying legislation). Be ready and able to recite the Senate Bill and House Bill laws associated with the bully's offense. For example, if you live in Texas and your child is experiencing sexual harassment issues at school, and no one will address the issue, share your knowledge of SB 471 and HB 194. If you do this, everyone will know that you mean business!

When to call a lawyer

If you have gone through all the recommended steps above, more than likely you will not have to call a lawyer; however there may be times when your story will land on "deaf ears." If no one will listen to you, or if everyone has listened to you and they have chosen not to intervene, there is no more time to waste. You will want to get legal advice immediately. Time is of the essence and the safety of your child is paramount!

Focus on your child

Remember, there are effective steps that you can take as your child's anti-bullying advocate. Consider the fact that bullying related suicides are real.

STOP whatever you're doing and act quickly on your child's behalf. Our children count on us to help them during crisis. This is not the time to put ANYTHING else before your child. Show your child that they can trust and count on you.

About the author

Author Cherrye Vasquez has a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction; a Ms.Ed in Special Education; and a BA in Speech Pathology/Audiology. She specializes in Multi-cultural education and holds certifications in Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician.

Cherrye is passionate about empowering children, so her platform centers on diversity and bullying issues. She feels strongly that if children are empowered and armed with the tools needed for a deep love of self and self-identity, they will be able to withstand life's challenges, including bullies.




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Summer 2013 - Please look for Cherrye’s new release – Clique, Clique, Stop


Summer 2014 – Cherrye’s Bully book will be released





  1. Cherrye...

    Fantastic and informative post! This should be in every school as well as a handout to every parent the first day of school when they come home with all the school info to fill out. It not only would help the bullied, but also may make parents of bullies stop and take notice.

    This should definitely be part of the "back to school" literature! Bravo my friend!


    1. Taylor, thank you. What an excellent idea. I hope many parents will see this article. If you know families with small children or those dealing with these issues, please pass it on.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Take Care - Cherrye

  2. Thank you Cherrye - as mother of a child who has been bullied at school I have the greatest of appreciation for the excerpt posted above and have no doubt that the guidance provided would be invaluable to any such parent in that particular situation - as I would have loved to have at my disposal at the time!
    Thank you!

    1. Oh, PJ. I am sorry to learn that your child had to face the hands of a bully. I know how you felt/feel because my child has faced bullies as well. It is a terrible feeling, but we can take steps to help them. I do not hesitate any more. I am my child's greatest advocate, and now I know how to proceed and still remain friendly with school officials so that my child doesn't face the brunt of that, too.
      I certainly hope that many families can use this information. My goal is to help as many people as I can.

  3. This article is a significant service to children and parents everywhere, not just in the USA. The message that parents can and must act to stop bullying is one that needs to be heard on all continents. I note a sea-change from the old attitude, reinforced by Hollywood and TV, that the only answer to bullying was for the victims to stand up to the aggressors.

    1. You are correct, Bryan. Bullying is not an issue that's solo to USA.

      I agree. The victim of a bully MUST stand up, speak out and be heard. Adults must intervene. We can help both the
      bully-ee and the bully.

      Thanks for sharing - Cherrye

  4. Excellent article, lets hope parents share this with their children.

    1. We can only hope, Lori. Some parents (and their children) may not ever have to think about bullying and I hope so, but those that aren't facing this now may suddenly find themselves dealing with this issue in the future. Then, I can only hope they'll recall this article, download it, and use some of the information.

      Thanks for stopping by, Lori.

  5. Wonderful article for parents and children the world over. Bullying is a pandemic that is not merely an isolated issue to children. Bullying occurs in the workplace as well. Very sad state of affairs. Though adult bullying is more subtle, and by that fact, more difficult to resolve.

    1. I agree with you.

      Yes, many of us have seen bullying in the work place as well. Fact is, we have to deal with it for sake of keeping our jobs and that is sad.

      Seemingly, people would recognize that it is wrong at any level, and consider the Care-Based Thinking Principle (the Golden Rule).

      Thanks for sharing - Cherrye

  6. Very informative article and I am glad that you addressed the issue of the school not always responding to a parent's concern that their child is being bullied.

    Bullying has been going on since I was a child and way before and it is time it stopped. It seemed to get worse in the 80's, and just has escalated from there. Education like you are presenting is so valuable.

    1. It is highly important that school officials realize that parents are no longer going to remain silent. Parents and school officials should work together while earnestly resolving these issues.
      We have to protect our children.

      Thanks for stopping by - Cherrye

  7. Cherrye, What a comprehesive and complete article on an epidemic sweeping this country. Even adults bully. Bullying in the younger years is bad enough and often sets a child's self-esteem and personality for life, but now with super media toys in the hands of our young, we're losing way too many to suicide. That did not happen often in the past. Now it's time to put it to an end and make bullying not only no longer socially acceptable but illegal.

    1. Thank you, Micki.

      I can only hope that many families will benefit from this article. You are right. Bullying has gotten out of hand, so we must become proactive, equipped and ready for action. We can STOP bullying.

      Take Care and thanks for your support, Micki - Cherrye

  8. P.J., this is the most comprehensive article I've ever read about bullying. It should be reading material for all parents, teachers, grandparents, and anyone who cares for and about our children. Bullying has become epidemic. It needs to be stopped!

  9. Salvatore,

    Thank you very much. I tried to write it as thoroughly as I could in order to cover all bases. I love children and hurt when they do.
    Like you, I hope many parents, teachers, educators and grandparents will read it and benefit greatly.

    Thanks for stopping by - Cherrye

  10. I'm posting for Catharine Johanna Otto:

    Bullying is a problem everywhere, Marta, and I believe a lot of children may learn bullying from their parents, so it is a generational problem, like other types of abuse.

    And today's hyper competitive and hyper labeling culture only adds to this constant obsession with who's on top, who's inferior.

    Children witness their parents bully other adults in subtle ways, and then they act it out in greater extremes in the playground. God knows I've seen bullying occur in churches, church choirs, non-profit organizations, and on Linkedin many, many times, including in this group---present company excluded, of course.

    I have suffered some of the worst bullying of my adult life in church choirs, where other sopranos were venting petty jealousy of my voice. Bullying is everywhere that the weakness of small egos exists.

    1. Isn't it ashamed, Catharine? Many adults (parents included) feel that if they bully within the privacy of their homes, their secret is safe.

      I'm surprised that you experience bullying at church since people usually try to act their best in front of their "sisters and brothers." Say a prayer for them, huh?

      I have also experienced bullying on LinkedIn, and Facebook not to mention a group that I was a part of that I really thought was pretty cool. Just recently, I deactivated my account with this group because the moderator said that people had the right to say whatever they felt. I, on the other hand, encouraged on line netiquette (on line social skills/etiquette). We can agree to disagree and respect one another's points of view and perhaps learn from one another, but she didn't see it my way.
      The respondent (to my comment of the forum discussion) was insulting and downright accusatory and unprofessional.

      I hate to hear that you've suffered bullying. That is why this message is so very important.

      I hope many people will share my article and perhaps opt-in to follow for more bully news, statistics and updates.

      Take Care and thank you very much for sharing with us -

      Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

  11. Bullying is as old as time itself and is not only a school problem but a societal problem. I can only speak from my experience as a schoolboy. Born in England in the early fifties all the children I knew at school were the same, looked basically the same and all sounded the same. There are three reasons for bullying out of the way, if there were other children being bullied then it escaped me. Our teachers were tough and misbehaviour resulted in the cane. I disobeyed a school rule, right in front of the headmaster and received six of the best for my troubles. Didn't do that again. We had rough housing, fights between kids (one on one) and everyone went home. I went home to a life of systematic sexual/emotional abuse so whatever may have happened at school paled into insignificance. We emigrated to Australia when I was nine and lived in Sydney for a while, going to schools where hundreds of other migrant children were in attendance. School bullying began for me in a Brisbane school. Situated in a suburb on the then outskirts of the city I was a rarity, the only English child there, or to coin the vernacular, a Pommie Bastard. This term is still used today to describe the English in Australia. I well remember the look on the face of the only black person there, an Indian boy. As soon as he heard me speak he knew his days of being bullied were over. The school bullies got me ten minutes before first bell. One had engaged me in conversation while the others, like dogs came up from behind. I received a punch to the side of the head and down I went, then the kicking began. It appears it was because the main bully's father ended up in a Japanese POW camp because of decisions made by Winston Churchill in WW2. So this was bullying handed down, his father's hatred and mental torment. Sad to say there were no counsellors, lawyers, concerned teachers etc running to my aid.

    I approached each teacher who ran a sport or other activity. Every one of them turned me away with, 'We don't want little Pommie bastards on our team.' I certainly wasn't feeling the love.
    Every day for a fortnight I had to fight my way home from school, they would leap out of hiding and bash me, or throw fist sized rocks, they hurt. I wasn't a wuss, I fought back but always against the odds. I never told my parents, nor did I show signs of odd behaviour. I had learned how to hide away mentally from the sexual abuse. (I now have several little rooms in my mind I call home.)
    My mother only became angry when I came home with my one good shirt torn off my back, then I told her the whole story. She walked to school with me the next day, left me in the playground while she hmm, spoke with the headmaster. The whole school heard it. The upshot was the tennis teacher rounded up the six boys, had them in line and let me fight them one at a time. After I knocked down the fourth one the others walked away. They never bullied me again.

    I didn't get to play sport and have shown a great lack of interest in it since. I did however shine and that was through my writing. I produced an essay that impressed the Head so much I had to read it out to every class in the school. Suck on that bullyboys. Bullying didn't stop after I left school, I still have my Lancashire accent after 52 years of living here. It defines me and if people don't like it well, they have the problem. I was bullied once in the army at recruit training, here's the link,

    Like most of the ills in society they are born in the family home and that is where they have to be addressed. Anything after that is sticking Band-Aids on gaping wounds. Schools never seem to address the problem fully enough, the law can do so much so it's up to the parents of bullies to actually step up and parent. I somehow don't think that is going to happen.

    1. Laurie,

      In memory of your words, I WILL fight on. I will think of you each time a child is bullied and I let my voice reign.

      I will take notice and become the voice of those that feel that they can't speak. I will intervene when I need to. I will take notice of tattered clothing and that far away look in a child's eyes who is calling for hope and care.

      I WILL do this because I CARE.

      You are a brave man, Laurie. You are a brave and noble man.

      God Bless You Today and Always!
      Cherrye S. Vasquez

    2. Why thank you Cherrye, I don't know what to say. Thank you doesn't quite seem enough.

  12. A wonderful post that helps to create awareness of bullying and what to do about it. Thank you so much for this.

    1. Thank you, Trish. Please help me pass this information around to those who may benefit from it the most.

      Many times we see this in writing, but no action is taken.

      We must STOP bullying today.

      Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

  13. Fantastic article, Cherrye. As you know, I'm a big fan of your work and really admire how much heart you put into it. This message is critical for all parents, and I've shared it across my social media platforms!!
    Tami xo

    1. Tami,

      Thank you so much for your continued support.

      You are such a lovely lady. I want to take this time to sincerely thank you from the depths of my heart for sharing your thoughts, and sharing my work across your personal social networks.

      This platform is very dear to me. I love children and hate to see them suffer in any way.

      Take Care - Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

  14. Hi,

    Thank you for the informative article on bullying. As Laurie stated in his comment, bullying has always been around. Through improved communication and the new technology, especially computers, the problem has come more to the forefront.

    I would just like to address one of your social definition for bullying. To be honest with you, a child who feels like everyone has to like them has, in my opinion, a problem. You'll never get everyone to accept you and you'll never get everyone to be your friend. I know it hurts to be excluded from a special group, because I experienced that also as a child, but the experience helped me find my way to myself, and today I look back at those exclusions, and I know I am a much better person, walking my journey, because I didn't get involved with that or those social groups.

    I am not saying that I approve of bullying but I am concerned that the word bullying is now beginning to encompass anything. So what happens for example, when a child doesn't want to invite a girl to her birthday party because she doesn't like the girl. They have nothing in common. Is this child then considered to be a bully, because she excluded the other child? I don't think so, or at least that is my opinion.

    There are many issues in bullying that I agree with , but as I said before, not everything is bullying. It is a matter of developing inner strength to stand firm in life.


    1. Hello Patti,

      I am happy that you stopped by to share your thoughts.

      Social bullying is on the rise just as the other aspects of bullying because children have cliques and some exclude others. The word that I want to focus on is "purposefully." Why would a child purposefully exclude another child? Can you think of valid reasons? We should not promote that it's okay to dislike a person. We may not like their ways, attitude or character, but we should encourage our children to give difference a chance in proposed relationships.

      Think about reasons why a child doesn't like another. Are there valid reasons to dislike someone? Excluding a child due to difference isn't socially unacceptable. Now, if a child is just being mean to another and children have chosen to exclude them until they have learned better, that reason is valid because no one wants to be around a bully, and they shouldn’t have to be around a bully. For any other reason shouldn't be encouraged.

      I believe that each of us have chosen not to be a part of social groups that we feel are not healthy for us. Some of us have sighed relief or exclaimed a hearty "whew!" when we've barely made the right choice when one of our friends indulged in something negative that we barely escaped, but was glad that we did.

      I believe, Patti, that what you described when you stated, "It is a matter of developing inner strength to stand firm in life" is actually termed RESILIENCY. Resiliency is another great trait for our children to possess in order to withstand bullying behaviors. We want our children to stand firm and feel a sense of deep-seed empowerment. We want them to grow and bounce back from negative encounters. We want our children to grow and learn from both negative and positive experiences.

      Yes, social bullying is a problem and anytime a child purposefully excludes another for any reason other than the child not playing fair, being mean and/or the like is indeed a form of bullying. Bullying doesn't always entail physical incidences.

      Just because a child favors one child over another doesn't mean that he/she is disliked. Children have their favorites, but can be considerate to others when the time comes. As adults we can work with children to mix their social groups up a bit and learn about others and the differences of others. In fact, we should do this in order to dispel bullying and promote diversity.

      I hope this helps, Patti. Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I love this sort of dialogue. This is how we learn from one another.

      Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

  15. I'm posting for Mirjam Maclean, who said the following during a discussion of this article in The Literary Endeavor:

    Marta: I think that you have probably pointed out one of the main reasons that some cultures support bullying more: competition and rewards in grades, badges and special privileges.
    In nature we always see the most violent competition between those that eat the same food and between those competing for the same privileges (from females). In sociology it is a known phenomenon that where the members of the group are the most alike and living in a small area, the more violence will erupt.
    Schools tend to have strong separations between age groups - so the seven year olds look down on the six year olds for being "too young" and often separate boys and girls, while most of the kids come from similar economic backgrounds. This is asking for problems.
    Bullying is virtually non-existent in Montessori schools (where ages are mixed) and in schools like Summerhill, which have no standards to test kids against.
    I don't know if kids in Argentina wear uniforms, but that is one of the big reasons as well, because those sorts of measures dismiss the idea of individual differences in the system and the kids pick that up.
    Teachers think they are doing the opposite: they talk about individuality and tolerance, so that their entire message comes across in a double bind that tells the bullies they are doing the right thing and the tendency to tell victims to be tough or to learn to be assertive, despite all the good intentions, only tell them there is something wrong with them.

    1. Hi Mirjam,

      I love to hear how others perceive topics. I certainly have never thought about what you are saying, but I do want to point out something here. My daughter attends a school with a Montessori program, and she was indeed bullied. Of course, it goes back to what you were saying. The boy was in her same grade. Her class was supposed to have 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, but there were not enough 4th graders for this teacher's class, so only 5th and 6th graders were there.

      You bring up a point to consider, however. I wonder if there is any research out there to back this up. It is certainly worth looking into as I can ascertain your logic. If an older child helps a younger child, they are their helper, and not a bully.

      I don't believe that teachers intend to promote bullying, however.

      When I talk about diversity, I try not to use the word tolerance, because I don't want children to just tolerate each other (although this is better than nothing at all), I want them to earnestly give one another a chance. I want them to listen and learn something from each other. Who knows, they may have things in common.

      At any rate, I learned something from you today.

      Thank you for giving us something to think about, okay?

      Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

  16. Your article contains a very critical message, Cherrye. I have shared all places I can. Best wishes in all your endeavors as you push forward in your campaign against bullying.