Bullying: What parents and families should know and can do

Everyone has a role to play in bullying prevention and response, and to promote a culture of respect, responsibility and resiliency. Parents and families are central to this effort. Here’s information about what parents and families can do to prevent bullying, and what happens when bullying is reported to the school.

​Report an incident​

If your child reports that he/she has been bullied, report it to the school teacher, counselor or principal immediately. The principal or designee will initiate an investigation. You can also use our feedback form to report an incident anonymously (we require an email address). Please indicate the school where the incident happened. The complex area/school will be notified.


Families can communicate. Talk with and listen to your children every day.

  • Show you care.
  • Ask questions about their school day, including experiences on the way to and from school, lunch, and recess.
  • Ask about their friends.
  • Observe your children’s emotional state as changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns may be a sign of anxiety or discomfort.

Families can teach and model. Instill in your children the values of respect, responsibility, and resiliency to prevent bullying.

  • Create healthy anti-bullying habits, coaching your children on both what not to do (e.g., push, tease, be mean to others) as well as what to do (e.g., be kind, empathize, take turns, be respectful).
  • Explain to your child about what to do if someone is mean to him/her or to another student. Tell the bully to stop, then walk away and report it to an adult.
  • Be a good example and model for your children. Remember, anytime you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you are teaching your children that bullying is okay.


If your child reports that he/she is being bullied:

  1. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Listen carefully to what your child tells you about the bullying. Do not encourage physical retaliation. For example: Do not say, "Just hit them back."
  2. Contact your child's teacher, school counselor or principal at the school to report the incident(s). Emphasize you want to work with the staff at school in finding a solution. Reporting may be done verbally or by phone or email. You may also report using our Feedback Form​, which will be forwarded to the complex area/school — please indicate the school involved.
    • Additionally, if cyberbullying is involved relating to social media, connect with the resources here to report incidents directly to the application(s) being used.
  3. Help your child become more resilient to bullying. Help to develop your child's talents or positive attributes. Teach him or her how to seek help from an adult when feeling threatened by a bully.

What happens next?
When a report of bullying, cyberbullying and/or harassment has been received at the school, this is what happens:

  1. The principal or designee will initiate an investigation to determine if a Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 19 violation occurred. Chapter 19 is Hawaii state law that governs student misconduct. A good faith effort will be made to provide timely information to the parents involved about the school’s investigation.
  2. Upon completion of the investigation, the principal or his/her designee shall determine whether the report of bullying, harassment and/or cyberbullying is substantiated as defined by Chapter 19:
    • Substantiated HAR Chapter 19 offenses are those that have been committed on school grounds, on Department transportation or during a Department-sponsored activity on or off school property.
    • Non-substantiated HAR Chapter 19 offenses are those that have occurred after school hours, during the weekend, on or at non-Department property or events. Chapter 19 consequences cannot be applied. However, this does not preclude the school from providing other types of consequences, interventions and supports for the offenders, victims and bystanders.
  3. If an incident is substantiated, the principal or designee will determine appropriate disciplinary actions, interventions and supports for the offender(s). Interventions and supports to the victims and bystanders are also provided based on the needs of the students.
    • In determining disciplinary actions, the principal or designee shall consider the following factors: Intention of the offender, the nature and severity of the offense, the impact of the offense on others including whether the action was committed by an individual or a group of individuals such as the gang, the age of the offender, and if the offender was a repeat offender.
    • HAR Chapter 19 disciplinary action options include the following: correction and conference with student, detention, crisis removal, individualized instruction related to student’s problem behaviors, in-school suspension, interim alternate education setting, loss of privileges, parent conferences, time in office, suspension of 1 to 10 days, suspension of 11 or more days, Saturday school, disciplinary transfer, referral to alternative education programs or restitution. Students shall be counseled in addition to any disciplinary action taken.
    • Examples of interventions and supports include, but are not limited to, school counseling, peer mediation, conflict resolution, social skills training, parental involvement, and problem solving skills training.
  4. The principal or designee shall document the substantiated bullying, harassment or cyberbullying incident in the Department’s Student Support System database (eCSSS), which allows schools and complexes to identify, monitor and track student concerns over time.

Follow up

It’s very important that parents of children who have been involved in bullying or cyberbullying (whether perpetrator, bystander or victim) help their children process it. From StopBullying.gov:


  • Assure the child that bullying is not their fault.
  • Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.
  • Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again.
  • Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and school or organization may all have valuable input. It may help to:
    • Ask the child being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. Remember that changes to routine should be minimized. He or she is not at fault and should not be singled out.
    • Develop a game plan. Maintain open communication between schools, organizations, and parents. Discuss the steps that are taken and the limitations around what can be done based on policies and laws. Remember, the law does not allow school personnel to discuss discipline, consequences, or services given to other children.
  • Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child.
Avoid these mistakes:
  • Never tell the child to ignore the bullying.
  • Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied.
  • Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled.
  • Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.
  • Make sure the child knows what the problem behavior is. Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others.
  • Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Model respectful behavior when addressing the problem.
  • Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied. For example:
    • Sometimes children bully to fit in. These kids can benefit from participating in positive activities. Involvement in sports and clubs can enable them to take leadership roles and make friends without feeling the need to bully.
    • Other times kids act out because something else — issues at home, abuse, stress — is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support, such as mental health services.
  • Involve the kid who bullied in making amends or repairing the situation. The goal is to help them see how their actions affect others. For example, the child can:
    • Write a letter apologizing to the student who was bullied.
    • Do a good deed for the person who was bullied or for others in your community.
    • Clean up, repair, or pay for any property they damaged.
  • Follow up. Continue finding ways to help the child who bullied to understand how what they do affects other people. For example, praise acts of kindness or talk about what it means to be a good friend.

Parents can also get involved to assist the school in its efforts to cultivate a culture of respect, responsibility and resiliency for all students by working with the school's parent organization(s), or joining school-based or community-based safety and improvement initiatives in place. Contact the school and indicate your interest.

Even if kids are not bullied or bullying others they can be affected by bullying. Many times, when they see bullying, they may not know what to do to stop it. They may not feel safe stepping in in the moment, but there are many other steps they can take to assist a child being bullied.

  • Help them get away
  • Be their friend
  • Don’t give bullying an audience
  • Tell a trusted adult
  • Set a good example

This video explains why bullying prevention among bystanders is so important. Have a conversation with your child about bullying prevention.​



​Anti-Bullying Work

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Email: doeinfo@k12.hi.us

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