5 Ways to Increase Parent Engagement in Bullying Prevention

How to get your school’s parents involved


Research shows parent involvement is critical to the success of a school and to the students. This fact is especially true when it comes to bullying prevention programs. Yet, many parents do not know how important they are to their children's success in school.

As educators, it then becomes your job to engage parents in the bullying prevention process. Too many times educators assume that it is an uphill battle to get parents involved and do not even attempt to address parent engagement.

But remember, if you want more parent involvement you must change your efforts. Here are some ways to get parents involved in your bullying prevention efforts.

Recognize that there are different types of parents. Every day a very diverse set of parents send their kids to school. Some parents want regular communication from teachers while others could care less if they ever hear from the school. The key is to try to reach as many different types of parents as you can.

For instance, there are parents who are the help seekers. These parents are looking for help from the school rather than providing their help. They are concerned only with their children and are looking for ways to help their children succeed. Ways to involve these parents include informational meetings, conferences and workshops.

Another group of parents are the school helpers. These are the parents who are willing to volunteer at different functions but do not want to be in charge of anything.

Offer ways for these parents to get involved in your bullying prevention program by asking them to volunteer at events and programs.

And a third group of parents are those who are potential transformers. These parents are ready to play a bigger role in the school environment. They have ideas and are willing to work with others to implement those ideas.

Invite these parents to be part of planning and focus groups.

Send a consistent message. Schools sometimes send conflicting messages to parents. One day the school is inviting toward parents encouraging them to get involved and volunteer. Then later the school sends a message where they appear to put up barrier for parental involvement. If you want parents to support your programs, you need to be inviting at all times.

One way to send a consistent message that parents are invited to be part of the educational process is to hold different types of events. In addition, to orientations and conferences, consider planning other types of events both educational and social. Also be sure to extend your invitations for volunteerism beyond just your PTOs. The idea is to be sure your message is reaching as many parents as possible.

Establish stakeholder groups. Stakeholder groups are comprised of a very diverse set of parents, and not just the ones that are going to agree with everything the school district wants to do.

The purpose of these groups is to provide ideas on what bullying prevention should consist of. They also offer feedback on what the district is currently doing.

For your stakeholder groups to be effective, you need to embrace challenging parents. In other words, these are the parents who are not happy with the way things are being done. Allow them to have a voice. Remember, disagreements are not bad. It is how we work it out that matters. And sometimes these parents might stretch your way of thinking.

Give parents the opportunity to work with students. Every good bullying prevention program has an element of student involvement. In other words, kids are developing ideas on how to change climate and prevent bullying at their school. Allow parents to be part of this student planning process. For instance, invite them to listen to student presentations on bullying prevention. Or, hold a bullying prevention fair, much like a science fair, where students share their ideas and research on bullying prevention. In addition to inviting parents to attend, allow them to judge the projects.

Invite parents to activities relevant to them. If you are going to hold workshops or informational meetings about bullying prevention be sure it is something that would interest parents. You will get much better attendance and involvement if you make the event interesting and worthwhile. When parents get a sense that you just want to push out a message or information without offering anything of real value, then they will not attend. If you are not sure what your parents would be interested in, ask for ideas.






Continue Reading