School bullying may be defined as repeated instances of harassment, intimidation, violence, or threats of violence from one student to another at school. This can include both physical acts of violence as well as mentally or emotionally abusive speech. In some cases, bullying occurs from one student to another, but in some cases, several students can “gang up” on one victim.
In past decades, bullying was seen as a “normal” part of growing up, and was often allowed to persist. However, in recent years, experts are recognizing the dangers of bullying, as such incidents can contribute to emotional trauma later on in a person’s life. As such, many schools and counties are adopting “anti-bullying” rules and laws.
In most cases, it is the student or students who are doing the bullying that may be held liable for persistent bullying. This may generally require an investigation into the incident or incidents, and may require testimony from other witnesses, such as students, teachers, or play yard attendants. School liability for student injuries is generally difficult to prove and can involve lengthy investigations.
Generally speaking, a damages award can only be issued if the student has suffered actual harm or loss due to the bullying (such as verifiable physical injury). Loss of property or theft is often an aspect of bullying, such as when the bully steals items from the victim.
In some cases, the school or a school worker can be held liable for school bullying incidents, especially in cases where a teacher knew about the bullying situation or witnessed it, but did nothing to intervene or prevent the conduct.
“Cyber bullying” is a newer form of bullying that involves harassment or intimidation through the use of the internet. For instance, this can involve flooding person’s social network page with cruel remarks, or distributing inappropriate or offensive pictures of the person through mass text messages. Internet stalking can also be an aspect of cyber bullying.
Generally speaking, cyber bullying can occur either at school or away from school, during off school hours. Thus, even though students are often involved in cyber bullying against one another, it is difficult to hold a school liable for injuries or damages caused by cyber bullying. This is because the school generally has no control over student’s actions online, and also generally they don’t owe the students any duty to regulate such interactions.
On the other hand, it might be possible to hold a school liable for school bullying if there is a very serious situation involved, and the school officials knew about possible dangers, but failed to investigate them. Again, cyber bullying is a new phenomenon, and there are very few state and local laws governing it.
School bullying is serious and can often lead to injuries or substantial losses to student victims. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need assistance investigating or filing a legal claim for school bullying. Your attorney can help you determine which parties may be held liable, and whether any options for legal relief are available. Also, your lawyer will be able to guide you during court hearings if you need to participate in a lawsuit.
Last Modified: 02-13-2018 12:50 AM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
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