How Can Parents Put a Stop to a School Hate Club?

We recently received a query through Twitter asking Lorna’s advice about a “hate club”:

“What is the best way to approach a situation where a boy starts a hate club against one girl and class joins – teacher’s aware.”

That’s a tough issue for any parent to deal with, especially when the teacher is aware and unwilling to step in.  What can parents do?

The following response is excerpted from Lorna’s book, “Bullying Epidemic: Not Just Child’s Play“. You’ll find more detailed information in Chapter 8, “Is It Bullying & What Should I Do?”



However, it does offer general guidelines for parents dealing with a classroom bullying situation that is being unaddressed by the teacher.

General Principles:

  • What age is the child? The way you handle this depends on the age of your child.
  • Talk to your child about the situation and always keep an open line of communication. Reassure her it’s not her fault and that you will stand up for and protect her. Ask your child for “advice”:  “Does this seem like a good thing to do? What if we try this for 2 weeks and see where we are?” Don’t take it entirely out of the child’s hands.
  • Remain positive and action-focused with your child. Stay calm and respectful in all your meetings. Don’t let your own emotions (fear or worry) get in the way. Don’t melt down in front of your child. Speak respectfully of others, to their face, and in front of your child, even if they’re causing you and your child problems (“they’re making a mistake”, not “those #*&!!@”).
  • If your child is in physical danger, remove them from the school immediately. Make arrangements for home schooling.
Action Steps:
  • Go see teacher again (one last time). If you’ve already seen him or her twice, don’t bother. Go to the next step (principal).
  • Go see the principal.
  • Go see school superintendent
  • Bring supporting information to all meetings – email, texts, Facebook, voicemail –  any documentation that supports your statement about a hate club, bullying, or exclusionary behavior (keep a notebook documenting incidents, even if they leave no paper or electronic trail).
  • At each meeting, take notes. Come away with an action list – for the teacher or principal and for the parent. Action item #1: “I’ll check in with you next week. Would Wed at 1pm be a good time”. Don’t leave without a telephone or in person follow-up appointment.
  • Allow 1 month to solve the immediate problem – during which time you should see evidence that adults are taking a visible stance that this is unacceptable. The school should be making visible, convincing efforts to change the kids’ behavior and their understanding of what’s acceptable.
  • The real problem will take 6 months to solve. Expect a smaller recurrence (the kids will test to make sure the adults “mean it”).
  • If you don’t see CONVINCING evidence of change, move your child to another school (not the right answer, but it’s the answer that will keep your child safe from a school that won’t protect your child’s rights to physical and emotional safety).
  • Prepare yourself and your child for the possibility of changing schools. Identify a new school, process the application, be prepared so your child can go to a new school. New Year’s, or after a vacation break, is a great time to make that transition if you need to.

“Hate clubs” are never easy to deal with, but when the appropriate adults engage and step in, students school-wide can learn and assimilate valuable anti-bullying standards, behaviors and attitudes, making every day bullying prevention day.

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