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What To Do When Your Child Is Bullied

HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



What To Do When Your Child Is Bullied
Childhood Bullying

While it is true that you will probably be venturing onto someone else's turf, this is still your case and your child and both of you – not the lawyers; not the judge; not the jury - will enjoy the rewards or suffer the losses. Resolve from the beginning that you are taking personal responsibility for your case.

Bullying is such a pervasive problem that the media is rife with notorious bullying incidents and their sometimes heartbreaking effects. Reactions to these infamous incidents run the gamut from blaming the victim to blaming the victim's parents to blaming the bully to blaming the bully's parents to blaming society to blaming the human condition. Whatever the reactions may be, bullying and its damaging effects persist. According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, the victim can endure negative physical, educational and mental health problems persisting even into adulthood, including but not limited to: depression; anxiety; loneliness; altered patterns of sleeping and/or eating; physical injuries; health complaints; lower academic test scores; truancy; higher school dropout rates; suicide; and violent retaliation up to and including deadly force against the bully and/or others.

Fortunately, every State has enacted laws to prevent and counteract bullying. California, for example, enacted anti-bullying measures in its Education Code, empowering school superintendents and principals to suspend or recommend expulsion of students who bully other students. In this context, bullying means "any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils…directed toward one or more pupils that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following: (A) Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that pupil's or those pupils' person or property; (B) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his or her physical or mental health; (C) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her academic performance; (D) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school." In this context, a "reasonable pupil" means "a pupil, including, but not limited to, an exceptional needs pupil, who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct for a person of his or her age, or for a person of his or her age with his or her exceptional needs." As long as those acts or conduct are "related to school activity or attendance," they can "occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following: (1) While on school grounds; (2) While going to or coming from school; (3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus; (4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school-sponsored activity." Furthermore, on October 10, 2013, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 256 (which will go into effect in January of 2014), dramatically increasing the schools' power to punish bullying occurring outside of school and having nothing to do with the academic setting, applying to students' use of computers, phones, media, or tablets.

While the punitive measures of suspension and expulsion are the most notable measures, California has additional measures – in and out of the educational system – for dealing with bullying. California schools have developed interventions on the individual, classroom and school-wide levels. Here, parents work with school staff – including but not limited to the victim's/bully's teachers, the school principal and/or the school counselor - to address the problem of bullying and to protect all students. In addition to using the educational system, States use other civil laws and criminal laws to counteract bullying. California, for example, has laws against harmful behavior such as harassment, stalking, violence, and threats. In sum, states such as California have created many tools for preventing and combatting bullying.

How, then, can a parent use those tools when his/her child is being bullied? In any event, obtain a copy of your school's/district's policies and procedures regarding bullying and the student code of conduct by requesting a copy from the school principal or superintendent. If your child is being bullied by another student, immediately report the incident(s) in as much detail as possible and in writing to your child's teacher, to the school principal and to your lawyer. If your child is being bullied by a teacher or other school staff member, immediately report the incident(s) in as much detail as possible and in writing to the school principal, relevant teachers, School Superintendent, local Board of Education, (Special Education Director and case manager, if applicable) and to your lawyer. If your child is being bullied by someone other than a student, teacher or other school staff member, immediately report the incidents in as much detail as possible and in writing to the police and to your lawyer. Keep your own copy of the incident(s) report. Your lawyer will, with the possible assistance of school staff, then guide you through the further steps of intervention, pressing for suspension or expulsion of the bully, and/or additional appropriate civil and criminal actions.


A LIST OF DO'S AND DON'TS

DON'T be intimidated by the process or the people.

DO obtain a copy of your school's/district's policies and procedures regarding bullying and the student code of conduct by requesting a copy from the school principal or superintendent.

If your child is being bullied by another student, DO immediately report the incident(s) in as much detail as possible and in writing to your child's teacher, to the school principal and to your lawyer.

If your child is being bullied by a teacher or other school staff member, DO immediately report the incident(s) in as much detail as possible and in writing to the school principal, relevant teachers, School Superintendent, local Board of Education, (Special Education Director and case manager, if applicable) and to your lawyer.

If your child is being bullied by someone other than a student, teacher or other school staff member, DO immediately report the incidents in as much detail as possible and in writing to the police and to your lawyer.

DO keep your own copy of the incident(s) report.

DO work with your lawyer in taking the further steps of intervention, pressing for suspension or expulsion of the bully, and/or additional appropriate civil and criminal actions.


Kathy Catanzarite

[Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither HandelontheLaw.com, or any of its affiliates, shall have any liability stemming from this article.]


Source: Kathy Catanzarite - Handelonthelaw.com Staff Writer

Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.





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