Bullying is something that no parent should take lightly as it can have devastating effects on children. In addition, schools in most states are now required to address any reports of bullying immediately. This may also include cyberbullying, which often happens outside the school system.
There are steps you can take as a parent to stop or prevent your child from being bullied. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against the school or the family of the person who is bullying your child.
How Do I Know If My Child is Being Bullied?
In some cases, bullying may not be obvious, as it can take on many forms. It can also occur both outside and inside of school. The law states that bullying is verbal, physical, or mental actions that are committed by someone to harass, intimidate, or cause harm to another.
Bullying can happen in private schools, public schools, and even in online schools in the form of cyberbullying. Children who have special needs or don’t fit traditional gender roles are often targets of bullying, but it can happen to any child. Some signs to watch for include:
- Change in appetite or desire to eat
- Depression, sadness, or moodiness
- Inability to fall asleep or trouble sleeping
- Not wanting to go to school when they used to enjoy it
- Low self-esteem
- Physical illness, such as headaches, stomach aches, or backaches
- Repeated unexplained bumps, bruises, or cuts on your child
- Skipping or missing school often
- Taking alternative routes to school, even if those routes are out of the way
- Very few friends or a child who is a loner
Steps to Take If You Believe Your Child is Being Bullied
If you believe your child is being bullied, file an official complaint with the school as soon as you suspect it. Be sure to provide details about what your child tells you, as well as any changes in behavior you have noticed. If your child provides dates, details and the nature of bullying incidents, provide those to the school as well.
Keep a detailed record of all incidents. Request that your child see a school guidance counselor to help them deal with the bullying. Most districts have a code of conduct that may be accessible online. Review the code to see what the school is required to do once a formal bullying complaint is filed.
There are also steps you can take that may prevent your child from becoming a bullying victim. Talk to your child each day and ask open-ended questions. Children often will not admit that they are bullied, so it may take some time for you to get them to tell you if there is a problem. Keeping the lines of communication open will make your child more likely to come to you if they are experiencing bullying.
Set limits for online activities, as many children are bullied through social media. Too often, children, and some adults, say things online that they would never say in person as they feel safe hiding behind a keyboard. Base your online monitoring on your child’s age and set appropriate limits on how long they can use devices as well as what sites they are permitted to access.
Taking Legal Action
If your child’s school does not follow their bullying code of conduct, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit, especially if your child has been injured by the bully or bullies. You can visit this site to learn more from a personal injury lawyer.
It is important to remember that some states offer public school districts sovereign immunity, which means you cannot sue for personal injury or tort claims. However, you may have a claim for negligence if your child is injured due to bullying. It is also possible you may have a claim against the bully or the family of the bully if they are a minor.