As a parent or caregiver, you can’t be everywhere. And you can’t guarantee that the child in your sphere of influence will be successful, nor that an issue like bullying will ever become part of their lives. However, the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) have determined that your increased engagement in the school life of a child can have a massive impact. “When we look closely at patterns of success for our students,” CODE’s Parent Engagement plan explains, “there is ample evidence that achievement and positive school adjustment come from the support and guidance of parents and those who guide the learning and attitudes of our young people.”

The Council have produced a wealth of material related to student-parent engagement, which can be accessed from this page: http://www.ontariodirectors.ca/parent_engagement.html . The 48-page “Tool Kit” is chock-full of techniques and suggestions for enhancing your role as a partner in your child’s education. Two topics which are of particular relevance to bullying are found in the green section, ‘Be An Advocate’ which begins on page 20, and the yellow, ‘Stay Informed’, which follows it. Keeping those lines of communication open with students, school staff and parents are key, and can make a parent or caregiver feel less like they are prone to be blindsided by an issue.

The Council’s material also addresses bullying directly in two more helpful volumes – the one on Relationships gives a description of bullying and some things to watch for in the ‘Be A Coach’ section (its accompanying guidebook has some sample activities that parents can use in helping students build a healthy understanding of relationships), while the teen edition (found here: http://www.ontariodirectors.ca/Parent_Engagement/PA%20Downloads/34963_CODE_Teen_Tool_Kit-ENG_sm.pdf) includes some important material regarding attitudes or behaviours that may signal that a student is involved in bullying others, and some ways to positively address that with them. “Parents do not want to think that their adolescent may be bullying,” as CODE’s material explains, but proper involvement and reinforcement from parents can help end a cycle of bullying.

We at Thinking Forward are committed to playing our part in eradicating bullying from our city’s schools. We are grateful for resources like the ones CODE has produced – if you know of others, please share them with us so we can make them known!