How to Beat a Bully
Stop The Bull!
Back in the day, when we were growing up, dealing with bullies seemed much simpler. It was personal, usually only involved a small number of students and could be dealt with by disciplinary procedures of our schools. Bullying was essentially between two kids on the playground. It was easier to identify and address because much of the conduct occurred on school grounds and within the jurisdiction of our teachers.
Today bullying is much less personal and extends way beyond the playground. Anybody can say anything on the internet and hide behind the wall of social media content. Bullying used to require a higher level of commitment on the part of the bully and was substantially more personal. Unfortunately social media has changed all of that. Now a bully can conduct their assaults outside of the classroom, and do so 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without personal contact with the victim. Additionally, the communications are shared instantly with large numbers of individuals. So now it is not just an exchange of words between a few kids on the playground. Now the whole school is involved.
Policing and stopping bullies in the past also seemed much easier. Physical confrontations, school punishment and separating students often ended the bullying. Now, however, much of the bullying is done outside of school and beyond the school’s reach. Protecting children today often requires legal action and might, in some cases, involve actions against the school. There are both Federal and State Laws that place duties on our schools to help prevent, limit and stop bullying.
First Civil Rights laws enforced by the US Department of Education and the US Department of Justice places a duty on schools to deal with bullies under certain situations. A school has a duty to protect its students when the actions are “server, pervasive or persistent” and creating a hostile environment at school and is “based on a student’s race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion” (stopbullying.org). Without going into great detail a school may be held civilly liable for not adequately responding to the actions of the bully when the harassment involves a protected class.
In 2006, South Carolina Legislature passed the Safe School Climate Act. SC Code Ann. 59-63-110 and following is commonly referred to as the Safe School Climate Act and it creates a state cause of action available to victims when schools fail to take appropriate action. The Safe School Climate Act goes into great detail defining harassment and bullying, citing prohibited conduct, identifying obligations of the schools and its administrators. In the Act our legislature required schools to implement and adopt policies to help prevent and stop bullying. It outlines for us what schools must do to investigate, report, and punish perpetrators so that all of our children can enjoy a safe place in their schools and not be bullied.
The bottom line is that no one likes a bully and we all want our children to be safe. Bullying has severe consequences on our children and unfortunately may not be known until it is too late. In order to stop bullying in our schools we need to hold our leaders accountable. Parents need to be involved in their children’s online activities and we must share information with each other to help identify and stamp out all bullying activity!
If your child has been a victim of harassment and bullying at school or online, please give us a call. There may be civil remedies available to your child for which Schiller and Hamilton may be able to help. Call us today for a A Complimentary Strategy Session. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.