Bullying FAQs

Bullying Program FAQs


What is the McGrath Bullying and Harassment Training?

The McGrath Bullying and Harassment Training Program is a comprehensive curriculum designed to train the entire school community is awareness of bullying as both a socio-emotional issue and a legal issue. It is a 360-degree approach to the topic — we provide training modules, videos and distance learning programs for EVERYONE involved. This is critical if school districts are to impact the school culture AND detect and intervene in the problem.

Download the comprehensive McGrath Bullying and Harassment: Minimize the Risk Curriculum
Includes: Rationale for Training, Curriculum Overview, Programs and Objectives, Materials and more.

Who is the training for?
Only McGrath Training Systems offers programs that are legally fit, educationally sound, and designed to intervene with the entire school community. We provide the following:

Awareness Training for:

  • Students, pre-k through high school
  • Teachers
  • Key staff such as bus drivers, coaches, playground monitors, and extra-curricular activity supervisors
  • Parents

Complaint Intake, Management and Investigation Training for:

  • All Site Administrators and Deans
  • School Counselors
  • School Nurses, Health Assistants and Health Educators
  • School Safety Officers
  • Student Services Directors
  • Risk Managers
  • Human Relations Directors

Train the Trainer Workshops for:

  • Counselors
  • School Nurses, Health Assistants and Health Educators
  • Anyone who trains students or staff in your district

Why is it insufficient to simply provide character education and train students to respect each other?
This approach by itself will not protect you from liability.

For most students, reporting bullying behavior does not occur like a viable option. This is due to many factors — peer pressure, threats of retaliation, fear of looking weak, fear of being disbelieved, a culture in which “tattling” is considered a sign of weakness, etc.. While character education can go a long way to shift the way that reporting occurs for students, to only train students is insufficient both as a cultural and a legal remedy.

The district, not the victim, is responsible for detecting, investigating and remedying bullying behavior. This takes training.

The courts have made it clear in cases of bullying and harassment that the school district has a duty to train — not only students but staff, teachers, and administrators. This employee training must be consistent with the duty to protect students. Included under the duty to protect are other duties: (1) the duty to monitor the environment — and to report incidents, (2) a duty to investigate — not only student complaints but incidents that are reported by staff, including rumors of misconduct, and (3) the duty to remedy situations that are unsafe and/or hostile and intimidating to victims and/or bystanders.

If the court finds that you “should have known” about a situation, “I didn’t know” will not be a valid defense against liability. Every employee in your district must know what to look for, how and when to report it, and what actions to take when bullying behavior occurs.


Why do you suggest investigation training for all site administrators?
Every site administrator must be thoroughly trained to intake, manage and investigate complaints to maximize your protection from liability. While your district may have specialists trained to investigate “serious” incidents, the reality is that who intakes and investigates most student-to-student bullying and harassment complaints are the site administrators.

Past-based procedures for dealing with bullying complaints are insufficient to protect you and your district from liability. Most administrators are simply not trained to deal with bullying AS A LEGAL ISSUE.

The fact is that because site administrators are untrained many investigations go awry at the intake stage. Many of our common practices to remedy bullying could be considered a violation of civil rights and are legally unsound. They may also lead to unsound conclusions or inappropriate or ineffective remedies.

We also strongly encourage districts to extend this training to everyone who intakes complaints including school counselors and classified managers. The more they know about how complaints should be handled — including that which is beyond the scope of their job — the more prepared they will be to make sound decisions and act in a legally fit manner at every stage.


Will this training protect my district from liability?
An analysis of applicable laws, federal guidelines and case law demonstrates the complexity and sensitivity of the issues surrounding bullying and harassment. This is an area of law that is continually growing as the courts, state legislatures and administrative agencies attempt to further define bullying and harassment and hammer out the scope of the liability issues.

While it is impossible to cover all bases on which liability may attach, minimizing the risks of harm and liability, comes from: having and following an explicit written policy; providing regular training and education to all employees and students; expressing disapproval of bullying and harassment and explaining the sanctions for such conduct; maintaining a procedure for complaints that encourages victims to come forward; ensuring privacy, providing effective remedies, and protecting witnesses and victims against retaliation; prompt and thorough investigation of all reports or complaints of possible bullying and harassment; taking immediate corrective action; appropriate consequences if allegations are substantiated; and prompt reporting of suspected child abuse or other criminal matters.

The McGrath Bullying and Harassment Training Program leaves your district fully trained and prepared to implement all of these procedures, providing the best possible protection for all


Is this training available on line?
Yes! The McGrath Sexual Harassment and Abuse: Minimize the Risk Distance Learning Series is available on line. Course 1 — Complaint Intake, Management and Investigation — and Course 2 — Awareness for School Employees — are fully functioning and in use in pre-K through higher ed school systems throughout the US.

While these 2 courses do not cover the legal and socio-emotional aspects of “bullying” they do address a very serious type of bullying — sexual harassment. All complaint and investigation procedures, checklists, forms and guidelines provided in these courses are equally applicable with bullying and other forms of discrimination. Look for an additional McGrath CyberSchool module on Bullying Awareness in winter 2008.

To learn more about current CyberSchool courses, use the left menu bar and click on CyberSchool Courses.


Do you have videos on bullying?
Yes, McGrath produces and distributes two series on this topic:

  • Sexual Harassment: Minimize the Risk
  • The Early Faces of Violence: From Schoolyard Bullying and Ridicule to Sexual Harassment

We also provide a Train the Trainer program to prepare your in-house trainers to maximize the implementation of these video education programs.

To learn more about our bullying and harassment videos, use the left menu bar and click on Videos for Schools.


I live in another state. Will your program still apply?
Yes, we conduct our training with administrators throughout the United States and Canada, and our programs are designed with this audience in mind. We take into account both applicable federal law and legal precedents as well as directing you toward compliance with state and local laws and regulations. We also ask that you provide us with a copy of your district bullying and harassment policies in advance so that we can tailor the training for your district.


Who is program designer Mary Jo McGrath?

Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law, is the founder of McGrath Training Systems with nearly 30 years experience specializing in employee performance issues and legal mandates in the workplace. She is acknowledged as a national expert in labor relations and discrimination law, supervision and discipline of employees, and leadership skills.

Ms. McGrath has been the featured legal expert on CBS’ Eye to Eye, The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, and 48 Hours on the issue of sexual harassment, and on ABC’s 20/20 on the issue of teacher quality and performance. She is the featured legal expert in a number of print publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Redbook Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Seventeen Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The School Administrator and several other nationally circulated professional journals.

Ms. McGrath is the author and developer of the McGrath Training Systems’ professional development programs and curricula that include live trainings, video trainings, and web-based distance learning on a variety of topics including: leadership, accountability, constructive communication, employee supervision and evaluation, gender equity, athletic liability, cultural and racial diversity, bullying, educator sexual abuse, and sexual harassment prevention and intervention. In 2007, her new book was published by Corwin Press, School Bullying: Tools for Avoiding Harm and Liability.


What are the fees for live workshops and how do I schedule a workshop in my district?
Costs vary depending on length of training, location, and class size. For more information, or to schedule a workshop, please call McGrath Training Systems at 800-733-1638.