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Success Story:
How I Dealt with Bullying & Harassment in School

Sad girlI was helping the mother of a young girl in elementary school. The girl was being harassed by a group of four boys. The harassment involved comments about race and sex that became increasingly explicit and threatening as time went on.

The teachers ignored it. When the parent talked to the principal, he acted as if the girl was causing the problem. When the parent talked to the boys' parents, the principal told the parents that the girl was causing trouble and the mother was over-reacting.

Bottom line: The teachers and principal were aware of the problem, blamed the child/victim, and refused to protect her from bullying and harassment by the boys.

I printed three copies of Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crimes, a publication from the U. S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and National Association of Attorneys General. Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crimes provides guidance about protecting students from harassment and violence based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability.

The parent gave one copy to the school principal, one copy to the superintendent, and kept one copy for herself. The parent said they acted like they had never seen the publication before.

There was one more incident after this, then the boys were made to stop.

Since the same problem probably exists in other schools in our district, I printed copies of Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crimes and mailed them to the middle school and high school principals. I also sent copies to the school board members.

A short time later, I read in the newspaper that our school district's harassment policy was being "rewritten to reflect federal guidelines."

This strategy was successful and fairly inexpensive. The cost to print a copy of Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crimes (169 pages) was about $17. I sent copies to people who had the power to protect this child and to the superintedent and school board members who make policies in our school district.

This was much less expensive than hiring an attorney - and it caused our school district to change their existing and ineffective policies on harassment and bullying.

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