As the awareness of detrimental effects of bullying on a child’s mental development continues to grow, schools are increasingly finding themselves in legal hot water. Becoming less forgiving of school officials’ failure to ensure a healthy learning environment for their kids, parents are turning to courts for support. While bullying is rightly identified as an unacceptable behavior in schools across the US, the state laws particularly prohibit harassment-oriented student bullying. Laws against bullying hold school administrators liable for failing to protecting victims from harm. It’s important for parents to know of their legal rights in order to help their bullied children when the school fails to act.
The legal obligation of schools to stop bullying
Bullying may be a social norm in schools, but the school bullying laws endorsed by pretty much all the states around the US aim to change that. School districts have been made legally obligated to ensure a safe and healthy learning atmosphere for students and prevent bullying, particularly one that constitutes harassment, through education, investigation and intervention. For this, they’re required to adopt and implement anti-bullying policies, and train the staff for the successful identification and effective handling of bullying situations. School officials are also obligated to provide adequate supervision, continuous monitoring and correcting of inappropriate behavior at school site. In case a bullying situation is identified, the school is legally responsible for protecting the victims and taking a disciplinary action against the bullies.
Failure to fulfill their responsibility
Schools failing to fulfill their legal obligation of dealing with bullying situations in an effective manner face the risk of getting sued by parents. However, this option becomes available to the latter under certain circumstances. These include school’s failure to adopt and implement anti-bullying policies and training their staff to deal with the problem in an appropriate manner. Inadequate supervision at school site raises the susceptibility of students to bullying, thus making the school officials liable in case a victim gets hurt. Failing to protect the victims or letting the bullies off the hook without and disciplinary action despite the latter being repeatedly reported for such behavior also makes the school administrators liable for negligence.
The last resort for parents
Suing the school should ideally be the last resort for parents of victims due to it being both complex and time-consuming. Getting in touch with the school officials, making them aware of the situation and demanding action may prove to be a better course of action. However, they may find themselves with no option but to take the matter to court in case the school refuses to cooperate. In such a case, it is important to gather and document evidence of the school’s negligence and lack of response to bullying. Parents may ask their victim child to describe their experience in detail, asking them to share the frequency, intensity and knowledge of any other kids who’re in similar situation. Once the evidence and whole narrative is documented, the parents should file a report with the police, pressing charging against the school officials. Once that is done, they should find a good lawyer and prepare themselves to take the school to court. Getting the media involved in the issue can put the issue in public spotlight and bring more support for the move against the school.
It’s important for parents to keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that the verdict will always come out in their favor. There have been cases in which the parents of victim children lost to the school after the former failed to establish the criminal negligence of the school officials. It’s best to keep the matter from escalating into a court battle. Therefore, both school administrators and parents should proactively deal with bullying to uproot it from the system.