Bullying includes repeated verbal or physical behaviors over a period of time. Although many people consider physical abuse to cause the most harm, the truth is even subtle verbal aggressions, rumors, and excluding behaviors are equally harmful. Bullying has even resulted in countless suicides among victims who see death as their only way out of their seemingly impossible situation.
What Are Some Warning Signs that your Child is Being Bullied?
One of the best ways to address bullying is to identify it early and address it before it spirals out of control. Here are some key warning signs that your child is being bullied.
- Declining grades
Changes in sleeping or eating habits.
- Becoming withdrawn or losing interest in hobbies.
- Frequently lost or destroyed items, clothing, or valuables.
- Unexplained injuries
- Self-harm or suicidal ideations.
- Loss of friends or a strong preference to be alone.
What are the Risk Factors for Becoming the Victim of a School Bully?
Unfortunately, some children are more likely to be bullied than others. Studies have shown that there are certain risk factors that increase a child’s vulnerability to bullying. Those risk factors include:
- A false perception that the victim is weak or feeble
- Children with few friends or who are perceived as ‘unpopular’
- Children from a lower socioeconomic class
- Children who express anxious or depressed behavior
- Children who exhibit aggression or anger in early childhood
- Children who frequently seek attention or may be perceived as annoying
What can you do if your Child is Being Bullied?
First of all, if you suspect your child is being bullied, know that you and your child are not alone. There are countless resources that can help both parents and children who are experiencing victims – A school bullying attorney may also be able to connect you with local resources.
There are things you can do to help a child struggling with bullying. Encourage communication and make your child feel safe telling you what happened. Never assume that your child caused the bullying. In these circumstances, you need to convey that your child’s feelings matter. Ask your child how you can help and respond in a manner that is consistent with your child’s wishes. Finally, after your child confides in you, be sure to periodically check-in and reinforce that you care about your child’s health and safety. For legal help, contact a school bullying lawyer at the Zeff Law Firm to discuss the details of your case.
Can I sue for bullying?
In some cases, a parent (if the child is under 18) or even a school can be liable for the ongoing bullying of your child. For example, a parent may be liable if he or she ignored complaints about bullying or failed to intervene when they were aware of bullying behaviors. Schools may be liable for a child’s bullying if they failed to implement bullying training or education, failed to enforce anti-bullying rules, failed to train teachers on how to handle bullying situations, or ignored repeated requests to intervene. A case for school bullying is typically stronger where a school or parent had knowledge of the bullying and did nothing to prevent the harm or protect the victim. Typically, a single instance of bullying will not be enough to sustain a lawsuit against a school or parent; Evidence of prolonged, repeated, and ongoing bullying will bolster the viability of a school bullying case. Discussing your child’s experience and the response of the school with a school bullying attorney at Zeff Law Firm can help you determine if your circumstances warrant filing a lawsuit.
What are my Legal Rights as the Victim of a School Bully?
In New Jersey, schools are now legally required to investigate accusations of bullying by either a teacher, principal, school psychologist or school board member. Additionally, schools are required to adopt disciplinary consequences for school bullying that are available if an investigation uncovers bullying. Failing to properly investigate bullying claims is a violation of your rights as a victim of school bullying.
In addition to New Jersey’s anti-bullying laws, federal statutes prohibit bullying on the basis of certain characteristics. Anti-Discrimination laws, such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, gender, physical disability, and religion – and those prohibitions extend to school bullying as well. Contact a school bullying lawyer at the Zeff Law Firm to understand your legal options.
School bullying is an unfortunate and persistent problem, but that does not mean that you don’t have options. Talk to a school bullying attorney at Zeff Law Firm today to determine your rights and identify solutions to your school bullying problems.