Safer School Info for Parents Parental involvement in schools is seen as essential to a school's success both academically and with regard to safety. This webpage provides parents with information that is designed to enhance their understanding of issues that characterize the arena of school safety. Links National Center for Children Exposed to Violence North Carolina Parenting Education North Carolina Parent Teacher Association FAQ for Parents What is Bullying? Bulling is repeated aggressive behavior that results in an imbalance of power. Kids who bully use their power-such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity-to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people. • Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once. • Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. • Online bullying is known as cyberbullying. What is the difference between bulling and a conflict? Conflict is a struggle between two or more people who perceive they have incompatible goals or desires. • Equal power among both parties • Occurs once in a while • Is accidental • There is no seeking attention or power • There is resentment by the party that caused harm • There are efforts to resolve the problem • Is typically not serious • Both parties have an emotional reaction Bullying behavior is very different from conflict. It is behavior that is intended to cause some kind of harm. • There is an imbalance of power • The aggressive behavior occurs with frequency • Actions of harm are purposeful • One party seeks attention, power and control • There is no resentment by the party that caused harm • There is no real effort to resolve the problem • The threats are serious physically and/or emotionally • The victims has an emotional reaction while the aggressor has little to none What are signs that may indicate my child is being bullied? Unexplainable injuries Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch. Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide What do you do if you witness or are made aware of a bullying situation? Intervene immediately Separate the kids involved Make sure everyone is safe Meet any immediate medical needs Stay calm Model respectful behavior when you intervene How do I report and address a bullying situation of my child or student? Advocating for your child/student is critical. If a child reports a bullying incident or situation, use the following reporting hierarchy until a resolution is obtained: Parents or Guardian Teachers Principal, Counselor Police if needed (Assault, Weapons, Threats, Criminal behavior) County Superintendent Local Board of Education Person at the State Level- NC Center for Safer Schools (email Karen Everett or call 919-807-3494) How to be an upstander instead of a bystander Be helpful by not encouraging the bully by standing by, record on your phone, or pass by without helping the victim of the bullying. Some upstanders directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting the situation away from bullying. Other upstanders get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying or by reporting the bullying to adults Why don't kids tell? Fearing retaliation. Not wanting to be thought of as a snitch. Feeling shame at not being able to stand up for themselves. Feeling they would not be believed. Not wanting to worry their parents or teachers. Having no confidence that it would change anything. Thinking that parent or teacher involvement would make the situation worse. How can I recognize if my child is experiencing a mental illness/crisis? Many times parents mistaken mental illness to typical adolescent development. Know the difference. Here is how: Examine changes in your child's behavior and its impact in your child's daily life and activities, including school/work, ability to carry out daily activities, and their relationships with others. These may be warning signs that may help you identify a possible concern for their mental health. Your child has: Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much Loss of motivation or sense of purpose Isolation — detaches self from friends, family and activities (not replacing with others) Strange discomfort, pains, sensations Harmful behaviors, risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, drugs Excessive sadness Feeling absent, disordered, racing thoughts, hallucinating Difficulty or unable to perform everyday responsibilities such as getting dress, keeping up with personal hygiene, or keeping up with school work. What resources are available to me if I suspect my child is mentally unwell? Immediate emergencies, including threat or harm to self and/or others: Call 911 For expressing your concerns and receive direction for available local resources, contact o Your child's school counselor and/or social worker o Speak to your child's primary physician o Your local LME-MCO What is a Reunification plan? Reunification is the planned, organized process of reuniting you with your child in the event an incident occurs at your child's school requiring evacuation. It is important to know how you will be notified should an evacuation be necessary and what steps you will need to take to be safely reunited with your child. Make sure you keep all contact information updated at your child's school. Should you have questions or need additional information, contact your school district's School Safety Director.