Legal options for parents of bullied children

If other attempts to improve your child’s safety have failed, a lawsuit may be an option.

Bullying remains a large problem in schools. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, over 3.2 million children are bullied every year, including both physical and verbal abuse. The traditional school bully is still around, of course, and may cause harm to your child through emotional and physical bullying in class and at the playground. In addition, social media has increased the exposure some kids face to bullying, meaning that some children are never far away from a bully.

The affect of bullying on children

Bullying causes real harm; it is not something to shrug off as “kids being kids.” Bullying also can lead to violent behavior, as children who engage in harassing behavior are more likely to resort to violence in an attempt to solve problems. And bullying can lead to even greater forms of verbal and physical violence, including physical and sexual assault.

But what are your options as a parent to prevent bullying?

Admittedly, the first resort isn’t a lawsuit, at least not for verbal abuse. Families, the community and school administrators can go a long way towards ending bullying at school. But if the school or organization responsible for taking care of your child hasn’t taken action and other options have failed, then it is possible to bring a lawsuit against the school for the harm caused to your child by bullying.

According to the NASP, acts of bullying are reinforced if school personnel ignore the issue. If a culture or peer group arises that promotes bullying behavior, then more kids will feel pressured to engage in similar conduct. That is why it is so important for schools to guard against bullying behavior.

Schools are responsible for providing safe learning environments

Schools must provide safe environments for children. New York law requires public and charter schools to have an anti-bullying and harassment policies in place. Each school district in New York has its own policy, which includes identifying and reporting instances of bullying and harassment.

Yet it is not always clear how effective some teachers and school administrations are at counteracting bullying. According to the NASP, a quarter of teachers see nothing wrong with student putdowns of peers. Perhaps as a result, teachers intervene in only about 4 percent of bullying incidences.

To be clear, one incidence of taunting isn’t reason to sue. But if the bullying continues, is ignored by school authorities, or escalates to greater levels of violence or harassment, then a lawsuit may help.

Should I contact an attorney?

Whether a lawsuit is an appropriate response to continued bullying depends on your unique circumstances. If other methods have failed and you are considering taking legal action against a bully or your child’s school, contact Morgan Levine Dolan, P.C.. Our experienced child injury attorneys can help you to understand your legal rights and options.


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