Battling Bullying: Getting results for your child - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Battling Bullying: Getting results for your child

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - WAVE 3 is working for you, uncovering step by step advice on how to get your school's attention and stop the bullying.

For all the stories we've done here at WAVE, there are hundreds more parents who we've talked to who are their wits end. They don't know what to do to get the results they most want: Their child free of bullies. For one Harrison County mother, it's too late.

"He was happy-go-lucky, laughed, carried on, really had a good time," she said of her now-14-year-old son.

She's asked us to disguise her identity because her son is no longer happy.

"That just all kind of went downhill when he started getting teased about his weight," she said.

She says she knows now that he faced repeated jabs from other kids at North Harrison Middle School.

"He was teased," she said. "I think everybody has been teased, but this is just a little bit more than teasing. This was torture."

Her son went on a diet and dropped more than 70 pounds.

"He just wanted to fit in and be with everybody else and he wanted the bullying to stop," said his father.

Still, the teasing continued his parents say, and his mom says it got physical until her son, who didn't have any major problems with discipline in the past, had had enough and threatened to take action.

"He said he wanted to do some things to some of the students," she said. "He didn't have any weapons."

Pictures are all a mother has left of her son inside her home right now. He hasn't been home since he made those threats February 4th, sent by the courts to three different treatment facilities.

"They're charging him with intimidation, a Class D felony," his mother said. "I would like to know how they could do that when he couldn't get out of the situation he was in. He reacted because he was being bullied."

"Parents are frustrated," said bullying expert, Ed Dragan, Ph.D. "They're angry, they respond in a way that sometimes is not that productive."

Dragan is a former school principal and superintendent, who says parents just don't know how to talk to their kids' schools.

"When I was a principal, when a parent contacted me and spoke intelligently about a situation, I acted on that," Dragan said.

He says to do that, first sit down, talk with your child and find out the facts: "Who's bullying your child, where it's happening, are any teachers around, is anybody observing that bullying?"

Then take that information and write out a script of how you'll tell your child's principal, and, Dragan said, "Practice that with a friend, somebody in the family, someone that you trust."

He says when you meet with the principal, get an idea of what steps will be taken to stop the bullying and write that down.

"Get a commitment from the principal and ask, 'What is it that you and I can do together in order to end the bullying?'" he advises.

Then Dragan says follow up with a thank you note, and wait for awhile -- but not too long -- to see if your child notices any change at school.

"Sometimes it takes a couple of days," says Jack Jacobs, JCPS Executive Director of Student Assignment, Health and Safety. "Sometimes it takes three or four days."

Jacobs says complex bullying investigations that involve children from multiple schools can take several weeks.

"Due process is very important, to be fair to both parties involved," Jacobs said.

He cautions parents that you may not know exactly what happens as a result of your complaint.

"The child may even get some discipline that was doing the bullying, but because of confidentiality rules, we do not share other children's files with parents," Jacobs said.

He says JCPS takes the problem very seriously, suspending 110 kids this school year for bullying alone, but, "We need everyone's help. We need our community, our families, everyone to work with us to combat bullying."

The parents of the 14-year-old wish it was that easy. They're only talking to us know because they don't know what else to do and they're hoping to stop another family from reaching the extreme end their experience with bullying has come to.

"It just seems like it keeps going and going and going all the time, bullying," his father said. "I mean where does it stop or how do you stop it? How do you make it better?"

Dragan says if you don't get results from your child's principal, follow the same steps with the school district. He says then consider if you need to get police or a lawyer involved.

He's actually just written a book, The Bully Action Guide, released last week with more detailed information for you.

The mother in our story says she hopes to get her son home soon. They'll enroll him in a different school and their house is up for sale.

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