Teasing and roughhousing are natural parts of the school experience. In many ways, learning how to overcome minor insults and a few bumps and scrapes prepares young children to deal with greater challenges later in life.
Bullying is something else entirely. It is relentless, intentionally harmful, and threatens the victim’s physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and ability to function in school, in social situations, and at home. Recognizing when “kids being kids” has crossed the line into something that can leave lifelong scars is not always easy, but responding appropriately to end bullying and protect the victim is essential. If your own child is subjected to bullying in Central Ohio, you may need to hire a Columbus school bullying lawyer to make that happen.
StopBullying.gov lists these signs that your child may be a victim of physical, psychological, or emotional abuse by one or more classmates:
A bullied child may be reluctant to discuss the problem or to name bullies. You should not be afraid to reach out to other school parents to discuss what may be happening. Other children may be suffering, as well, and someone will have witnessed something.
Once a pattern of bullying can be identified, it is important to document as many of the incidents and the negative consequences as fully as you can. Write down details, print out harassing emails and social media posts, take pictures of physical injuries, and keep records of declining grades, increasing absences, and changes in your child’s health and mood. Taking this evidence to teachers and school administrators should be the first step toward ending the abuse.
Federal laws and Ohio statutes require all public and private schools to protect their students from mistreatment. Schools that receive public funds must also have documented procedures for investigating and working to stop bullying. A parent who goes to a teacher, principal, or other school officer with concerns about his or her child’s well-being should ask for copies of those antibullying procedures.
It becomes time to hire a Columbus school bullying lawyer when teachers and school administrators do not meet their obligations under applicable laws and the school’s student manual or Code of Conduct. It is also appropriate to secure legal representation when an act of bullying is so severe and harmful that taking the matter to the police makes sense.
Getting an attorney involved will increase the odds of police taking action. It also puts school personnel on notice that they may have to go to court to answer questions about why they failed to meet their contractual and legal obligations to put an end to bullying.
Be aware, too, that most school bullying cases fall within the scope of school discrimination law. Teachers and school administrators must ensure that no students suffer mistreatment due to their race, skin color, national origin, sex, gender identity, or intellectual or physical disability. Violations of school discrimination laws can make school systems and their employees responsible for paying compensation and damages to the children harmed by the discriminatory behavior that adults either engaged in or allowed to continue.
If you need advice and representation from a Columbus school discrimination lawyer who also handles school bullying cases, reach out to the Calig Law Firm. You can request a free, confidential consultation online or by calling (614) 252-2300.