Sadly, bullying is a common problem. Most of us can remember being teased or harassed in school, but with the rise of the internet and cyberbullying, this topic has taken a serious turn. We more clearly understand the effects and causes of this behavior today, and new resources and legal actions have surfaced.
If your child is bullied, you may work with the school to remedy the issue. You can proceed to the state or superintendent level if it is not resolved. Finally, you may reach out to the U.S. Department of Education and a personal injury attorney to put your foot down against conduct that has not been corrected.
The Seriousness of the Issue
Here are a few facts about bullying that can put this issue into perspective:
- Bullying victims are 200% to 900% more likely to consider suicide.
- Bullying is related to 50% of suicides involving young victims.
- According to an ABC news story, almost 30% of all kids are bullies or bully-victims.
Bullied kids are more likely to commit suicide. For those who survive, it can still lead to developmental issues and long-term emotional hardships. Families who experience such suffering may wonder if the bully – or even his or her parents – could be liable in a personal injury claim. There is some precedent for this around the nation, though the only way to know if you have a case is to speak with an attorney.
Understanding Negligence and Bullying
In Florida, two girls (12 and 14 years old) were arrested for bullying in 2013. They were charged with a third-degree felony (aggravated stalking). Their target was relentlessly terrorized for months; their bullying included specific statements that the victim should take her own life. Though action was pursued against the bullies, in this case, no criminal charges were levied against the parents.
However, officials were convinced that the bullying led to the victim’s suicide and that, if not arrested, the tormenters may have contributed to further harassment, nuisance, and abuse. In situations like these involving excessive harassment or threats, you may work with a qualified legal team to seek justice.
Responding to a Bully
Though the litigation overseeing bullying, wrongful death, and accountability is a relatively new field, there are research groups and nonprofits committed to exploring this problem and educating parents and their children on how to correctly respond. The STOMP Out Bullying organization, for example, outlines the following way to approach this issue:
- Understand bullying, and memorize your school’s anti-bullying policy.
- Document any reported bullying incidence.
- Record school meetings, discussions with the principal, and all correspondence.
- Make copies of all reports related to the incidents.
- File a complaint with the school.
- In extreme, unresolved cases, the U.S. Department of Education can investigate the claim.
- Contact an attorney.
If the school fails to intervene successfully, you may seek legal action. The first step is to fill out a harassment notice, which will be delivered to the bully’s parents, teachers, and the principal. Contact law enforcement immediately if a child is threatened in any way, and reach out to an attorney for more information.
Know When to Speak to an Attorney
These cases can be complex and emotionally charged. In situations involving negligence or bullying, the victim or his or her family may be entitled to compensation. This is an especially difficult subject today, where cyberbullying can lead to severe emotional destruction that can be hard to identify.
Filing charges against a bully is also something that should be considered carefully. These perpetrators are also children, and the consequences of these offenses will follow them for the rest of their lives. Regardless, some situations warrant legal action. In those involving suicide or extreme torment, litigation may be your only option. For more information on these laws and how you should react, contact the team at Brian White.