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Bullying in schools - legal help

Bullying can be a very worrying and stressful time for a child and the effects of this if not dealt with promptly can be not only serious, but long lasting. Bullying can be both physically and mentally harming a child. It can range from name calling and verbal abuse to serious physical and/or mental abuse of a child by another child or teacher.

Is bullying illegal?

Some forms of bullying in schools are illegal and should be reported to the police. By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behavioural policy in place that includes ways they aim to combat bullying and procedures they must follow when bullying is reported. This will be decided by the school and all students, parents and teachers should be informed of it.

This links very closely with anti discrimination procedures which means that staff should not discriminate against, harass or victimise any students within the school.

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What to look out for?

There are various things to look out for when spotting if a child is suffering from bullying, particularly sudden changes to the child:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Frequent headaches, illnesses, sickness or faking illness
  • Destroyed or lost books, clothing, electronics or jewellery
  • Declining grades, loss in interest of school work or not wanting to go to school
  • Frequent nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Changing in eating habits, for example children may come home from school hungry because they didn’t eat lunch
  • Sudden decline of social interaction or friends
  • Loss of self esteem or signs of weepiness
  • Destructive behaviour

Not all children who are being bullied show signs but your child displays behaviours that are out of character, get help or advice straight away.

Reporting bullying

Parents should ensure that all complaints of bullying are addressed in writing with the School. It is always helpful to follow the internal complaints procedures. Staff at the school may deal with bullying in different ways depending of the seriousness of each case. They could either deal with the case themselves possibly by disciplining the bully, however if in school methods prove to be ineffective the issue will be brought further, either by reporting it to the police or social services; when reporting bullying, disability and special requirements of the pupils involved will be taken into account.

If serious damage is caused to the child, either mentally or physically, a claim can be brought in the courts for damages, but usually these cases are the most complex and only ones with strong evidence will be pursued.

Bullying outside of school

If the bullying continues outside of the school premises the head teacher of the school has the legal power to make sure that the students involved do not continue the action (not including private schools). This includes anywhere off the school premises from riding on the bus to school, to seeing the bully in the town centre, also where the cases of bullying are mainly online maybe on social networking websites or via mobile phone/instant messenger.

At Stephensons we provide expert advice to help you deal with bullying in the most effect way. Do not hesitate to contact a member of our team who would be happy to help with any questions or queries you may have, no matter how small you think the issue is. No query is unjustified when it comes to the care of your children. Call us on 01616 966 229 or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you directly.

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