Bullying in the school can be one of the most frightening experiences a child ever faces. It is a problem found in every kind of school, public, private, and sectarian, here in Toledo, Northwest Ohio, and throughout the country, without regard for race, creed, or socioeconomic circumstances. As parents, we try to protect our children from bullying and harassment at school, but doing so can be very difficult. If your child is showing signs of being bullied at school, he or she may be afraid of admitting to it for fear of retaliation by the bully, or fear of being teased by other children. If you suspect that your child is being bullied at school, it is important that you let your child know how important it is that he or she not keep it a secret. If your child denies that he or she is being bullied, but you suspect that he or she is still holding back, it may be a good idea to speak with a school counselor, teacher, or principle.
Bullying can occur both physically and verbally, and directly and indirectly. Examples of bullying include, but are not limited to:
Bullying need not necessarily occur on school grounds to be considered "school bullying." School officials are obligated to deal with bullying among students even where some or all of that bullying occurs off campus.
Experts estimate that as many as 350,000 school children are bullied every week, and schools in Toledo and throughout Northwest Ohio contribute to their fair share of that statistic. Bullying can lead to severe and permanent emotional distress, and in extreme cases can lead to the child attempting to take his or her own life. Bullying of any nature is unacceptable and can cause unhappiness and long term effects on a child's self-esteem. Prompt action by parents and school officials can greatly reduce the likelihood of serious consequences of bullying.
By both federal and Ohio law, schools are required to have a written anti-bullying policy designed to ensure the safety of students. Thus, if they are in compliance with the law, every school in Toledo and throughout Ohio has such a policy. However, the usefulness of an anti-bullying policy is largely dependent upon the willingness of teachers and school officials to promulgate it, implement it, and promptly and effectively enforce it.
If your child is bullied or sexually harassed by another student, it's usually best to take action right away. Don't wait for the students to work it out themselves. In most cases, it will only get worse, not better, over the course of time. Talk to teachers and the school principal immediately, as soon as you find out what has happened. It's important to document times, places and witnesses carefully, so you can give detailed information to school authorities. Take photos of any injuries, and have your child write down a detailed description of what happened. If other students are also harassed by the same bully, encourage their parents to speak up to school officials. School officials are more likely to respond immediately if they see the problem as widespread.
If talking to teachers and school officials doesn't bring prompt results, it may be time to consult with an attorney experienced in education law. If your child has been physically or sexually assaulted by another student, you should probably consult with an attorney right away. And of course, always call the police immediately if there is a physical assault of any type. The chances are, the bully will have a prior juvenile record, but even if he or she doesn't, prompt intervention by the police can be a powerful tool in the anti-bullying arsenal. Among other things, the police or an attorney may be able to help you get a restraining or anti-harassment order to keep the school bully a safe distance from your child.
Having represented parents and students here in Toledo and throughout Northwest Ohio for more than 31 years, I know education law, I know that schools have affirmative obligations to do what they can to prevent bullying, and to promptly and effectively deal with bullying when it occurs, and I know how to deal with recalcitrant school officials. Often, the mere knowledge that an attorney experienced in education law has become involved in the matter, will make school officials more responsive to your concerns.
In cases where school officials refuse to seriously deal with the problem, it may be necessary to take formal legal action. Obviously an attorney experienced in education law and specifically in the areas of school bullying and harassment, will be best qualified to advise you of the most appropriate legal action. Both Ohio and federal law provide legal weapons to deal with school bullying, but this is a relatively new and evolving area of law, that is best dealt with by an attorney experienced in education law.
I have more than 31 years experience in education law, and have successfully dealt with school bullying and harassment cases in Toledo and throughout Northwest Ohio. In addition, my experience in upholding the rights of individuals to be free from harassment and discrimination in the workplace and in dealing with governmental agencies, makes me even better qualified to deal with bullying and harassment at school. Of course, no attorney can guarantee you any particular result. But as a parent of four children, I can guarantee you that I will apply my best skills and efforts to achieve the best outcome I can achieve for your child. If your child has been experiencing bullying or harassment at school, and school officials have been unable or unwilling to deal with the problem, I urge you to set up an initial consultation with me to discuss the situation. In most cases, I will be able to help make a positive difference in your child's school experience. While I am located in Toledo, I will consider handling cases throughout Ohio and also in other areas of the United States.
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