Always a tricky proposition! Just as there are several different types of bullies, there are indeed several types of parents of bullies.
There are a some (less than a 15%) parents of bullies who simply did not know their child was bullying at all. Although, many experts will tell you that all parents have some inkling of their behavior.
Still others are aware of their child's tormenting behavior and put their head in the sand. Another type of parent actually consciously cultivates this type of antisocial behavior. And, of course, there is a wide mix of everything in between.
Our rule of thumb, is stay calm and give every parent the benefit of the doubt until they give you reason to think otherwise.
Before the conversation with the parent of the bully, make sure you have all of the facts. Be aware of any culpability your child may have at all. 90% there is not any wrongdoing on the bullied child's side, but occasionally there is = own it when you make the call.
If the bullying is in the early stages and you want to have a conversation with the parent ( hopefully the school has called first), present the facts in a pleasant but clear voice. Stay calm. Describe the incident. Pause. Ask for their help in stopping it. Most parents will be defensive, a few will be objective and fewer still will be accountable.
That said, go in positively. Document the call. Before the call ends, ask for next steps. Next steps should include:
-The bully needs to cease tormenting immediately
-The bully needs to understand the next set of consequences if they continue bullying
-The bully needs to commit to absolutely no discussion of the bullying, the victim, the victim's family or friends or anything regarding the victim in any way
-The bully needs to be clear that there will be no recruiting of others to bully or disingenuous (over-friendliness) with the victim
You might say: "Where is the apology." If this is offered, graciously take it. Don't expect this however. Only about 20% of the time will this be included.
Please visit solutionsforbullying.com for free resources and tools.