“They were mean to me!” Most parents have heard this or a similar complaint from their child. In previous generations, children were often left to learn from the experience by handling it themselves. If the methodology chosen was incorrect, our parents were sure to let us know about it as soon as we got home. In the present day, there is a national outcry for the school system to step in and protect children. Although school should have some responsibility to ensure the safety of the child, there is a point where the bully becomes a victim.
What Constitutes Bullying?
Stereotypically, the bully is the child that dominates their classmates, taking their lunch money and locking them in lockers. Bullying comes in all forms, including verbal, emotional and physical. The term has expanded to encompass a broad range of behaviors, which, by law, each school district is to define independently. However, legislation exists at the state and federal level to combat violence and harassment in the education system. The law dictates that bullying is:
- Any single person or group of children repeatedly intentionally being mean to any other child in the same school district;
- Physical acts or gestures repeatedly directed toward any student in the same school district;
- Physical or emotional harm to a student or their property;
- Inciting fear for imminent physical harm to a student or their property;
- Creation of a hostile school environment for a single child;
- Infringement of the rights of another student; or
- Disruption of the academic process.
Anyone can be a victim of bullying. However, there are a few groups that are specially protected by the law. Bullying based on any of the protected groups are considered discrimination. The prohibited categories are:
- Socioeconomic status;
- Physical appearance;
- National origin;
- Sexual orientation;
- Gender identity or expression;
- Academic status;
- Mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability; and
- Association with any of these individuals.
The Consequences of Bullying
After bullying accusations, a juvenile faces a broad range of potential punishments. These range from the school level to the legal level where it is known as criminal harassment. Criminal harassment is a felony offense. This conviction could dramatically alter the life of a child. It is important, however for someone to stand up for the accused and fight for their rights as well. If you look at it from a broad spectrum, the teachers and school create a group of people who then are “ganging up” on a young person, making them feel unwelcome in school. Their actions also can potentially damage the future of the student. Would this not also be a form of bullying? At some point, enough is enough.
If you are interested in discussing your situation with an experienced and proven Stamford, CT juvenile law attorney, contact Daniel P. Weiner today at 203-348-5846 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to learn how we can help.