What Is The Best Thing To Do If Your Child is Bullied?

Bullying is abusive behavior. If your child is a victim of bullying, then it is time to get involved and take a direct approach to shutting it down. Children on both sides of bullying incidents need help, and adults must first recognize that bullying should never be ignored or considered a “normal part of growing up.”

American_Bullying_StatisticsAs a father of two children, this topic is important to me and my goal is to help other families. Today I will review how to play hardball and stop a bully from harming your child or if harm has already been done, how to hold a bully legally responsible for his or her imprudent and wrongful conduct.

The Rebecca Sedwick Case

Victim_Of _Bullying12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick was tormented online and at school by a dozen teenage girls, who reportedly sent her hateful messages encouraging her to commit suicide.

After texting a friend that she could not take it any longer, Rebecca committed suicide by jumping off a cement factory tower in Florida. After her death, two of the teenage girls were arrested for bullying Rebecca and are now charged as juveniles with criminal third-degree felony aggravated stalking.

In a similar case in Portland, previously reported by KPTV, four teenagers faced kidnapping and assault charges after they tortured a 16-year-old boy who attended David Douglas High School. Three of the teenagers were facing Measure 11 charges and were arraigned as adults and the fourth teenager was facing lesser charges.

Stories of bullying and bullying suicide are tragic and are becoming more pervasive and psychologically scarring. Bullying happens Every Single Day.

What Is The Best Thing To Do If Your Child is Bullied?

As a father and Oregon lawyer, I cannot help but think about what rights and remedies victims of bullies and their families might assert. For starters, I believe immediate intervention needs to take place when your child is bullied. On your side is the powerful threat of legal action – a tool you must not be afraid to use to protect your child. In addition, you need to know what Oregon laws deal with bullying. For a brief summary of Oregon Bullying Laws go to Oregon Revised Statutes Regarding School Bullying.

Put Everyone on Notice

Child_Bully_VictimAs soon as your child mentions that he or she is being teased or bullied, is the time to call the teacher and school principal to let them know what is happening. I recommend scheduling a one-on-one meeting to discuss the facts. Bear in mind, kids are smart enough not to bully in front of the teacher, so often times the teacher is not aware of the behavior.

I recommend sending a letter (not electronic) to the teacher, principal, and even the school district clearly confirming your concerns and why they should immediately intervene and investigate the bullying. It is a good idea to request that all evidence such as pictures and videos be preserved.

By starting the process this way, you are putting people, the school and the school district on notice.

You are also requesting that they take bullying seriously and take reasonable actions to stop it. You may consider having the letter written and sent by a lawyer, which will likely have a much greater impact than a letter from you.

It is also a good idea to contact the parents of the kids doing the bullying to inform them of the problem. They probably have no idea their child is doing anything to yours. Most parents will likely take a bullying allegation seriously. If they do not or if the situation warrants it you can also copy the parents on your correspondence notifying the teach, principal and/or school district.

Ask Questions

It is always a good idea to ask questions regarding actions and next steps. For instance, you could ask the principal, “When can I expect to hear back from you about what you’ve done to address the situation? What is the next step?” It is also all right to ask educators to keep your conversations private, and then you can reassure your child about this as well.

Get Police Involved

Police_CarIf the situation appears serious and you feel your child is at real risk of harm, then you should immediately notify your local police department and make a formal complaint. Ask to speak to an investigator trained to handle juvenile harassment or bullying cases. Police and school administrators have many options for helping with bullying cases that fall short of arresting a juvenile. For instance, they have access to intervention programs designed to educate and help juveniles overcome bullying behaviors, without the stigma of a police record or publicity.

To help during the review and investigation process, make sure you are very organized and document your concerns with dates, names, and all details recalled.

Once there has been a threat of violence, it is a potential crime. Request that the bully is criminally prosecuted, and ask the investigating police department to forward its report to the District Attorneys office for review.

Enlist a Bullying Expert

With the rise in online bullying, increases in bullying at younger ages, and increases in bullying based on sexual preferences, many experts on bullying have stepped into the field to offer anti-bullying solutions. These days, bullying experts are much more prevalent and easily accessible. For example, Dr. Joel Haber has over twenty years of experience as a clinical psychologist and is an internationally renowned bullying prevention expert. He provides individuals with the tools they need to prevent and overcome bullying.

If Your Child Is Harmed

If despite all efforts your child is harmed, or you did not find out about the bullying until the damage was done, there are a couple of things you can do. The most important – hold the bully accountable and help prevent the bully from harming someone in the future.

  1. Document the bullying and harm caused to your child – this includes pictures, videos, emails, text messages and any other electronic data that can be saved. Documentation of physical injuries is important as well.
  2. Send a letter via certified mail to the teacher, principal, school district, and the bully’s parents to put everyone on notice of the harm and of your concerns;
  3. Hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.

How A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Every case of bullying is different and not every incident requires legal intervention. However, in cases where the bully or bullies cause serious physical, psychological or emotional harm then a personal injury attorney can help the victims and their families recover financial compensation and put a stop to the abuse.

A personal injury attorney can get the attention of the school officials, school district and parents by putting them on notice of the inappropriate conduct. Also, a personal injury attorney can help victims and their families pursue compensation by asserting claims against the bullies, the parents and/or the school district, depending on the facts of the situation.

Bullies can Be Held Civilly Liable

For instance, civil claims can be brought against a bully for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress to name a few.

In Oregon, parents can also be responsible for the intentional conduct (torts) of their minor children up to $7,500.

Finally, parents and school districts can be responsible under a negligence theory for the damages caused by student bullies if they knew or should have known about the conduct and failed to keep the victim safe or take other preventative action. In these cases, prior knowledge of bullying, violence and inappropriate behavior by the student bully is an important factor. Other claims may also be available to the victim depending on the particular facts of the case.

Attorney Travis Mayor

Personal_Injury_Attorney_Travis_MayorI provide this Blog as an educational and informational service for victims of personal injury and their families. It is not intended to be legal advice, as every case is unique and should be accurately evaluated.

If your child has been harmed emotionally or physically by another person, then you need to seek the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. I am happy to discuss the details of your situation for FREE. Please call me at (503) 610-0005 or (800) 949-1481, or email me at travis@mayorlaw.com, to learn more about your legal rights.