Areas of Practice
CAN YOU TAKE A BULLY TO COURT?
It may seem like a bizarre question, but in the 21st century, bullying has taken on new, subversive and often virulent new levels that can result in tremendous amounts of trauma. It’s now well established that children that are bullied experience this in a variety of ways in our digital era; it’s no longer a simple case of fights in the schoolyard. Bullying can take place online, right on a child’s device like tablet, computer, or phone, and no longer has to result in physical injury. It can, unfortunately, lead to the kind of trauma that sometimes leads to suicide, as was the especially tragic case of one Canadian girl who committed suicide after incessant bullying and harassment on the Internet.
Because of the way that bullying has changed, it may feel like a slap on the wrist at school, or a suspension are no longer sufficient. But is it actually possible to take a bully to court?
The Legal Problems
Pennsylvania has already seen one failed example of how to go about this in March of this year. Sharelle and Anthony Bridges tried-and failed-to sue the Pennsylvania school district for not doing enough to protect their son from racially motivated bullying. The court decided that the parents had no constitutional grounds for their suit, and that a school does not have a constitutional responsibility to protect students from other students.
But if you can’t sue the school, can you take the bully him or herself to court? Or the parents?
This is where things become very delicate, and much of this depends on the individual circumstances of a case. In a worst case scenario for example, where the bullying has resulted in a suicide, and there is plenty of online evidence of harassment and bullying from students too careless to cover up their activities, it may actually be possible to get justice in a court of law.
However, this kind of action should be very carefully considered, as it will have a profound effect not just on the bullying family, but your own child. You should consult with a lawyer about the nature of your case to see whether or not there is legitimacy to your particular instance.