One of the primary responsibilities of schools is to maintain a safe environment in which children can learn and thrive. People are now starting to recognize the severity of the problem and the impact is has on kids
New York, NY (PRWEB) February 27, 2008
The Law Firm of Steven J. Mandel, P.C. has released a new website that addresses the issue of bullying, and includes a free list of resources to help parents and children.
"One of the primary responsibilities of schools is to maintain a safe environment in which children can learn and thrive. People are now starting to recognize the severity of the problem and the impact is has on kids," says Mandel.
Bulling can include any of the following behaviors, some of which are subject to legal action:
Physical assault: If your child has been punched, kicked, tripped, had an object thrown at him or her, or personally attacked in any other way, under the law it's assault and battery, which is a crime. Damage, destruction or theft of personal property sometimes accompanies physical violence, and may also have legal ramifications.
Verbal taunting: Name calling, vicious teasing, and spreading humiliating rumors are all forms of verbal bullying. While not all of these behaviors can be handled legally, threats of physical violence and racial and religious slurs can fall under existing laws.
Sexual harassment or abuse: If your child has been touched inappropriately, or had sexual remarks directed towards him or her, various legal protections may be available.
Children are often ashamed to admit they've been bullied, and don't always tell parents. Some suffer silently for years. Here are signs of trouble: your child comes home with injuries, seems sad, depressed, or anxious, appears to have psychosomatic reactions like stomachaches, cries, has difficulty sleeping, or is isolated from other children. Excuses for not wanting to attend school are also suspect. If these or other suggestive conditions exist, start asking questions.
Gently inquire: is something wrong at school? Is anyone bothering, hurting or pushing you around? If your son or daughter confirms a problem, ask if it's a single incident, or if it has happened before. Has your child told anyone at school? Was anything done? Find out if the bully is an individual, or if there's a group. The bully may even be a teacher.
Being a victim is a painful experience. Never make your child feel inadequate for not having stood up to the bully, or blame him or her for the incident. Assure your son or daughter you'll act immediately to stop further abuse.
Attorney Steve Mandel recommends you take these five steps now if your child is the victim of a bully. The more time that passes without intervention, the more emotional trauma your child sustains. Here's what to do:
1 - Carefully document all incidents of abuse or harassment in writing. Write down a description of each event, time of occurrence, location, remarks or comments made to your child, and physical injuries inflicted. It's especially important to record names of specific witnesses. If the incident involves e-mail, print them all out.
2 - Take clear color photographs or video of all injuries on your child's body. Take several shots, from multiple angles of any bruises, cuts, black and blue marks, etc. Include that day's newspaper in the picture, clearly showing the date. It's critical to prove the date and establish these are not old injuries.
3 - Contact an attorney. Law firms that handle personal injury cases are best suited to deal with situations involving physical injuries. If your case has merit, the firm may handle it on a contingency basis. Discuss having the attorney send a letter to the school and the parents of the bully. Also, talk about the possibility of you meeting with school authorities and even filing a police report.
4 - If your lawyer agrees, call the school and ask for a meeting with the principal and teachers. Give them a letter describing the incident or series of attacks, expressing your concerns and requesting immediate corrective action. If your attorney has not already contacted them, mention you are considering legal action. Some schools have adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying.
5 - After the meeting, make a written record detailing how school administrators responded to your complaint. Note what you covered, comments made and what action, if any, the school agreed to. Specify names of those you spoke to, their titles and the date.
Your child's emotional well-being is ultimately your most important consideration. Children cannot learn and grow in an environment of intimidation and terror. Victims are more likely to suffer from poor grades and school dropout. If the trauma is severe enough, your child may develop anxiety or depression, and even have suicidal thoughts. As attorney Mandel says, "If you're not going to stand up for your kid, who is?"
You can learn more about legal action against bullying at: http://www.whenaccidentshappen.com
Steven Mandel is available for interviews.
For more information, call 1-888-2 WIN NOW or (212)-697-7383
You may also E-Mail Steven Mandel at firstname.lastname@example.org