There has been a lot of reports of bullying in the news lately. Some of these stories have had tragic outcomes.  Our elected leaders have been forced to realize that bullying can no longer be viewed as “a part of growing up” or “right of passage” and the behavior and conduct can no longer be accepted. 49 states have implemented anti-bullying laws that require schools to take appropriate action to address and prevent bullying. Although there is no federal anti-bullying law, schools are obligated to address harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability or religion. Despite this legislation, schools often times are not following the law or for that matter, their own anti-bullying policies. Many of our country’s school officials and teachers have not received proper training on how to respond to bullying.  Sadly, in most instances of bullying at school, no parent, teacher or adult intervenes.

Parents and schools need to be held accountable for bullying activities.  Unfortunately, it appears that it may take litigation and the courts to enforce the laws meant to protect our children and keep schools safe. School administrators and teachers need to play a vital and active role in not only preventing bullying, but stopping it when it occurs.  Parents also need to be educated on the devastating psychological impact and harm in bullying and share what they learn with their children.

One leading public interest law firm, Public Justice, has launched a national anti-bullying campaign  designed to hold accountable adults who fail to protect children and force school districts to take appropriate steps to respond to bullying. Public Justice uses litigation to:

  • Seek justice for bullying victims and their families;
  • Effect systemic change within school districts through injunctive relief requiring training and education;
  • Develop good federal and state case law, in both civil rights and torts; and
  • Serve as a resource for plaintiffs’ attorneys handling bullying cases.

Currently, Public Justice is involved in two cases: a lawsuit in Illinois on behalf of ninth-grade boys who were physically and sexually assaulted by fellow student-athletes pursuant to a hazing ritual directed by their coaches; and a suit representing five Jewish students subjected to virulent anti-Semitic harassment in a school district in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Bullying Facts from DoSomething.com

  1. Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
  1. 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4 percent of the time.
  1. Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.
  1. 1 in 7 students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
  1. 56 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
  1. Over two-thirds of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
  1. 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
  1. 90 percent of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.
  1. 1 out 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.
  1. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75 percent of school-shooting incidents.
  1. Physical bullying increases in elementary school, peaks in middle school and declines in high school.  Verbal abuse, on the other hand, remains constant.

The Law Office of Frederick S. Schwartz has a close association with the attorneys at Public Justice and members of its foundation and is actively investigating instances of  bullying, especially in the school setting.  Attorney Frederick Schwartz is committed to stopping bullying and welcomes any inquiries on this issue or other issues of discrimination or harassment.