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What To Do If Your Child Is Bullied

Bullied child sitting with knees up and head down in empty high school hallway

Bullying is a serious issue that has persisted in schools for many generations. This problem extends beyond the classroom. It can happen on the school bus, in the playground, and even on digital platforms. The U.S. Department of Education and many other organizations are continuously working to address bullying prevention. These efforts are to protect children from this kind of aggression.

Knowing how to stop bullying and address bullying incidents is essential for every parent. The well-being and mental health of children depend on it. As a parent, it is crucial to understand what you can do if you find out your child is a victim. You should also understand your child's legal rights and know the school staff's role in such situations.

This article briefly guides you on what to do if you suspect your child might be experiencing bullying.

Understanding Bullying

Bullying can have devastating effects on school-age children and teens. There can also be significant legal consequences for schools. But, there can also be legal consequences for schools that do not respond to credible cases of bullying, sexual harassment, or sexual assault.

Nowadays, bullying often happens outside of school on the internet. Cyberbullies taunt or humiliate another individual. Cyberbullying can inflict pain just as real as face-to-face bullying or harassment at school.

If you suspect your child is being bullied or harassed, there are steps you can take to stop or prevent it from happening again. In some cases, bullying can violate the law and result in criminal charges or be the basis of a personal injury claim.

Warning Signs Someone Is Bullying Your Child

Bullying can take many forms and occur in several situations, inside and outside school. From a legal perspective, bullying is verbal, physical, or mental acts committed by a student to harass, intimidate, or cause harm to another student.

The following list suggests potential warning signs of your child experiencing bullying:

  • Your child comes home with unexplained bumps, bruises, or cuts on more than one occasion
  • Your child has unexplained injuries or damage to their items
  • Your child spends a lot of time alone, both at home and at school, and has very few friends
  • Your child does not enjoy school as often as they once did
  • Your child refuses or is reluctant to ride the school bus
  • Your child misses school often or asks to "stay home"
  • Your child's performance on schoolwork starts to decline
  • Your child appears sad, depressed, or moody at all times
  • Your child increasingly suffers from low self-esteem
  • You notice a considerable change in your child's appetite or desire to eat
  • Your child takes an alternate route to school, even if it is out of the way
  • Your child complains of physical illnesses, such as headaches, backaches, and stomachache
  • Your child has trouble sleeping or falling asleep and has recurring nightmares
  • Your child has made noticeable changes in online behavior or anxiety related to text messages or social media

Remember that bullying happens in public schools, private schools, charter schools, and online schools. Any child can be the victim of bullying, but children with special needs or children who do not fit traditional gender identity norms are particularly at risk. If you suspect your child is experiencing bullying, continue reading to learn your next step.

What You Can Do if Someone Is Bullying Your Child

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stop or prevent bullying from happening or re-occurring to your child. Legally, school officials must do all they reasonably can to help stop and prevent bullying they know (or should have known) about. They should especially step in when the behavior results in severe mental or physical harm to a student. Otherwise, the school district can become legally responsible if it has not done anything to prevent or stop the offending behavior.

If you suspect or find out your child is enduring bullying, you can take steps to tackle the situation and halt the bullying. You can take the following actions if your child is experiencing bullying:

  1. Become an active listener. You must talk with your child daily and ask open-ended questions throughout the school week. Part of the challenge is often getting your child to open up, so being an active listener will go a long way. Talk to your child about the incidents. Make sure they know they can trust you and that it is okay to discuss these matters openly.
  2. Make a complaint to the school. The next step is to contact your child's teacher, principal, or school administrators and explain the initial behavior's circumstances. You must record the incident's date, details, and nature in writing. Keep a record of each bullying incident. This documentation will be helpful when you speak with school staff or law enforcement.
  3. Set limits for your child's activity online. Many kids experience bullying or harassment bullied or harassed on social media because others feel free to say or do things behind a screen that they would never do in person. Depending on your child's age, watch your child's online activity and set appropriate limits on device usage.
  4. Keep a detailed record of all accounts. You must also keep detailed, accurate records of any more incidents. You should also record the response received from the school. Be sure to include statements from your child and any other potential witnesses and an account of how your child felt emotionally.
  5. Speak to the school's guidance counselor if there is one. Ask whether the school has a contact person trained to deal with bullying and, if so, set up a meeting with them and your child. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), involve the special education team. They can provide support and accommodations for your child.
  6. Look at the school's code of conduct. Refer to the school's code of conduct to ensure it follows policy to prevent acts of violence, such as bullying. Many states have passed anti-bullying laws that require districts and schools to have policies and processes for investigating and responding to bullying. Some state anti-bullying laws include civil rights provisions for bullying based on protected characteristics such as national origin or sexual orientation.
  7. Seek legal advice from an attorney. Finally, if the school or district has not provided a reasonable solution, it may be necessary to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to get legal advice. Lawyers specializing in bullying cases can help victims and their families pursue legal claims against schools and parents who are not working to prevent the problem.

Can I Sue a School for Bullying?

Legal action may be necessary in certain extreme cases where the school failed to address bullying incidents adequately. It is possible to sue a school for bullying that the school knew or should have known about but failed to prevent if it resulted in serious harm to a child. The answer depends on the specifics of case law and state laws.

In the U.S., schools must protect students from bullying, especially when it interferes with their right to receive an education. If the school neglects its responsibilities, you can take legal action. But, it is difficult because most states have sovereign immunity laws protecting government entities from personal injury or tort claims. There are exceptions to these laws in all states. You should also discuss negligence claims against school districts or teachers with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Get Legal Help With a School Bullying Dispute

If you feel the need to escalate the situation legally, you should consult a lawyer who specializes in education law. They can tell you about your child's legal rights and the possible avenues you can take, considering federal and state laws. Remember, you are not alone in this battle. Many organizations and professionals help ensure your child's safety and well-being.

Suppose you believe your child's school has been negligent in its legal duty to provide a safe learning environment. As a result, it leads to severe instances of bullying behavior. In that case, you should explore your legal options. The ultimate goal is to ensure your child feels safe, protected, and capable of thriving in their educational environment. Legal action might be the next step to protect your child.

Find an education law attorney or personal injury attorney near you and get peace of mind.

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