Bullying and Racist Bullying in Schools: What ARE we missing?

School Bullying and Racist Bullying. Who are the victims?

School Bullying in the US: Are we missing something?

What do parents of bullied children want?

A survey by Simon Benn simon@simonjbenn.com www.simonjbenn.com



121 parents from across the world – mainly UK, USA and New Zealand – were recruited through Facebook groups. The results are on this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/stories/SM-NKPC2NCL/


Overall rating of schools’ handling of bullying

Very good 7%

Good 18%

Poor 29%

Very poor 46%


What should schools do?

From the parents’ answers, it seems as if the schools’ main failure is, first and foremost, acknowledging the problem. Later, if acknowledged, the institutions lack the proper training on how to approach each situation at each stage.

According to 38% of the parents interviewed, there are still plenty of aspects to be revised when it comes to how the schools deal with bullying. These aspects could be categorised into:

  • Acknowledging, identifying or accepting there is a case of bullying:

“I don’t have a problem talking to the school – the problem is the school listening and taking responsibility. They are always very careful not to use the word “bullying” in any correspondence, so denying that it’s happening….”

“I’d like to know why we ended been the criminal. Why they never acted on the bullying. Many. many complaints. They just turned a blind eye. Talking to a brick wall.  Would like to see principle take action. Don’t tell kids to ignore and tell them go away.”

“To take bullying more seriously rather than fobbing it of as ‘ it’s usual playground stuff’.”

  • Reporting parents or communicating with all the parties involved:

“All incidents should have been reported. There should be a zero tolerance for bullying. Any incident, no matter how small should be dealt with by the bullies parents being contacted, and a family meeting being held so that parents can work with child at home too!”

“more open transparent communication regarding bullying as it seems to be slightly hidden”

“Communication with all the people involved”

  • Taking timely actions:

“Though the school did eventually a wonderful job, it could and should have acted long before we reached the extremes we reached. My son could have been spared years of suffering.”


  • Supporting the victim or the victim’s parents:

“School should have a counsellor students can talk to….”

“Knowing how to move on afterwards. Our children get emotionally damaged and they are just expected to change overnight.  How do they cope when they bump into the children who bullied them when they are out and about.”

  • Acting on the bully:

“Bullies should have a three strike rule.”

“There should be a zero tolerance for bullying. Any incident, no matter how small should be dealt with by the bullies parents being contacted, and a family meeting being held so that parents can work with child at home too!”

“Ensuring all schools adhere to a zero tolerance on bullying and have the rights to exclude the bully with immediate effect.”


  • Better training school staff to give them tools to handle bullying:

“I think any school could benefit from more information on bullying. What constitutes bullying, when it is a good idea to report bullying, what teachers can do if they see bullying in class, what administration can do in the case of parents who inappropriately report bullying that is not really the case.”

“We need people trained in recognizing bullies and the victims. We need more compassion”


What information/support/help would you find useful in dealing with the school?

There is a general feeling of being lost due to the lack of information at different stages of the problem:

  1. How to identify real cases of bullying
  2. How to start the process of seeking help or reporting to the school
  3. How to handle matters during the process
  4. What to do if the school actions do not yield any result
  5. How to cope with all this process at a personal level to be strong enough to support their child

Out of 115 participants, 28% consider they lack some type of information which, if they have had it when dealing with the situation, it could have helped them handle it more confidently.  They feel they should be provided with support as regards:

  • Their children’s mental health

“How to help raise my son’s self esteem and confidence.”

“I think children would benefit from lessons on acceptance of differences, learning to put yourself in someone else’s place, not joining the crowd just to fit in by ganging up on someone who has been singled out. I think ultimately, most could be gained from practicing mindfulness and everyone should be taught to be mindful of others feelings.”

“I would have liked to know how i could help my child through the sleepless nights and the panic attacks…”

“How to keep your child upbeat and motivated during a bullying period”


  • Their own mental health to be strong and confident for their children

“Parents and children both need more information on how to effectively stop bullying without becoming the bullies or simply ignoring it. I am not good with confrontation myself, but found that I had to speak with a parent regarding her own behaviour toward my children. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. It ended ugly.”

“I struggle with this inbuilt belief that teachers and head teachers are somehow on a higher level than me and that I am not a professional, so I get nervous and aware that I look an1ious when trying to deal with this issue.”


  • To know their rights when it comes to complaints towards the school

 “What is legal, what the school is allowed to do, not do, etc.”

“What to say to make them act on complaints of bullying.”

 “How do refer to the LA, what rights we have as parents”

 “There is no support when its not just children being the bullies at the school.”

“What is legal, what the school is allowed to do, not do, etc.”

“Parents need to do as much research as possible about the school. How they handle issues, what other parents think of the school”

“Parents right. If the school isn’t helpful, what you have a right to do.”


  • To know how to identify bullying

“The parents getting more educated about being cyber and bullied.”

“Signs to look out for with the child. I saw the deterioration but never thought of bullying as the reason”

  • To know how to handle bullying

 “The parents getting more educated about being cyber and bullied period. It’s a hard to cope. For not only the children but for parents not knowing what to do next”

“Some support with how to deal with it”

What should other organisations do?

When it comes to third party support, there is a general tendency of parents needing information on how to deal with the school more than with the problem itself. Third party organisations can provide could come from three aspects:

  1. To identify the problem: information campaigns on how to discriminate whether it is a serious issue
  2. To deal with the school: what to expect or not from the institution (parents may be expecting the school to take some actions that are not in their hands)
  3. To know what to do when the actions taken by the school do not yield any result.

20% of the parents surveyed believe organisations should take some measures or provide support when it comes to dealing with the school or even when dealing with the issue in another context, i.e. outside the school.

  • With the school:

“The schools have complete autonomy. Deciding what constitutes a complaint. Deciding their own definition of bullying.”

“How the formal procedure works. I was completely unaware of my rights and what I can do. The headteacher used that to try to bury the issue. I still don’t know exactly what I can do. I spoke to local authority but they were not as helpful as if hoped.”

“I feel a third party to monitor bullying would be beneficial in all schools as then there would be impartiality.”

  • Outside the school:

“guidelines for kids would be helpful. Just telling them to tell an adult isn’t enough”

“The parents getting more educated about being cyber and bullied. It’s a hard to cope. For not only the children but for parents not knowing what to do next”

“Coaching my son how to deal with the comments. You are always going to get bad behaviour and name calling at school. However when it goes beyond this that’s when the problems start.”