Protection Against School Bullying
As adults, many people still remember being bullied as a child. Teasing, name calling, and threats are an unfortunate but daily fact of life for many children. Bullying distracts students from their studies and what they need to be learning in school. It can cause serious damage to a child’s self-esteem. Bullying, left unchecked, can erupt into violence, causing serious personal injury to your child. When it comes to dealing with harassment, bullying, and violence, what is the school’s responsibility? And as a parent, what recourse is available?
EFFECTS OF SCHOOL BULLYING
Among school-age children, bullying is aggressive behavior meant to incite fear and humiliation in the victim. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes school bullying as an imbalance of power, where one child uses their strength, popularity, or sensitive information to control and cause harm to others. Bullying is considered repeated behavior that, over time, can cause lasting and permanent damage to the child being bullied.
Bullying takes the form of intimidation through name calling and taunting, verbal threats, racial or ethnic slurs, or sexual comments. It can involve social alienation, such as spreading rumors, embarrassing a child in front of others, or purposely excluding someone in social situations. Bullying can and often does get physical. Incidents of physical bullying may involve throwing things, spitting at or on another child, slapping, choking or punching, as well as stealing, damaging, or destroying another child’s property.
DEALING WITH SCHOOL BULLYING
Children all too often attempt to deal with the pain and humiliation of being bullied at school on their own. Fear of reprisals may prevent them from telling their teacher or other school official. Feeling embarrassed and ashamed for what is happening, they are reluctant to tell their parents and try to shoulder the burden alone. It’s important to have a conversation with you child and to let them know they are not alone. Children, as well as parents, need to know that help is available.
In South Carolina, the Safe School Climate Act ( State Statute 59-63-110) requires schools to have policies against bullying and harassment. The act covers bullying behaviors committed verbally, in writing or via electronic text, as well as physical acts of violence towards a student’s person or property. Local school districts are expected to promote these policies so that students, as well as school employees, are aware of them. Bullying can occur in the classroom, lunch line, at the bus stop, or at recess, and school employees such as teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and janitorial staff are expected to report it. In response, the school administration is not only responsible to punish the offending student, but also to provide a safe learning environment for the student who is bullied, free of fear, intimidation, or reprisals.
LEGAL REMEDIES FOR SCHOOL BULLYING
No parent wants to see their child suffer the torment of being bullied at school, and your local school district has an obligation to provide a safe learning environment. If school bullying has resulted in emotional or physical injury to your child, or if you have had property damaged as a result of bullying behavior, you may want to contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at Anastopoulo Law Firm. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, we can review your case and help you and your child get the help you deserve.