Civil Rights Lawyers | Bullied in School
70% of young people report they’ve seen bullying in their schools. 40% of children in grades 4-12 report that they’ve seen, experienced, or acted as a bully “frequently,” meaning two or more times in a month. According to Stopbullying.gov, persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior.
Because bullying has become such a widespread issue throughout the state and country, and because time and time again we hear of the devastation bullying has caused only after a tragedy has occurred, Finkelstein & Partners, LLP created the Civil Rights Litigation Group. Each attorney listed below brings unique perspective to our clients, and has demonstrated a deep commitment to creating safer environments in our schools.
Are there statewide bullying policies in New York?
Yes. New York Anti-Bullying laws and policies were designed to prevent harassment, bullying, intimidation, taunting, and discrimination based on race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion or religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, and gender/sex.
New York State’s Anti-Bullying Laws are composed of four key components:
The Purpose Statement is an outline of the harmful effects bullying has on students. The Purpose Statement clearly states any form, type, or level of bullying is absolutely and undoubtedly unacceptable. School personnel (school administrations, teachers), students and parents are required to take any and all forms of bullying seriously.
Statement of Scope outlines expected conduct on school campus’, at school sponsored activities and events, and on school transportation. The Statement of Scope also covers behavior on school-owned technology (lap-tops, iPads, etc.) and behavior that may significantly disrupt the school environment.
Prohibited Conduct/Behavior defines bullying and cyberbullying as a direct or indirect intentional effort to harm one or more individuals. Any intention to cause harm, whether physical, verbal (oral or written), or non-verbal, may constitute as bullying. Prohibited conduct also includes retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of bullying, and perpetuating bullying/harassment by spreading hurtful or demeaning material.
Enumeration of Specific Characteristics states behavior classified as ‘bullying’ may or may not be prompted by any particular characteristic.
New York State Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies require each school district to enforce policies that include:
- A definition of bullying consistent with the definitions specified by the state
- A procedure for reporting incidents of bullying, including a means of submitting information anonymously and with protection from retaliation. School personnel are also required to report incidents of bullying that they’ve witness or have been made aware of in a timely and responsive matter.
- A procedure for investigating and responding to bullying which outlines expectations for a prompt and thorough investigation/response to any report of bullying (“including immediate intervention strategies for protecting the victim from additional bullying or retaliation, and includes notification to parents of the victim, or reported victim, of bullying and the parents of the alleged perpetrator, and, if appropriate, notification to law enforcement officials.”-Stopbullying.gov).
- Written records must be created, filed and stored, documenting all incidents of bullying and the resolution.
- Clear and detailed definitions of sanctions and a graduated range of consequences are required.
- School districts’ must refer the victim, perpetrator, and others counseling and other mental health services as needed.
Can I hold School Administrators accountable for not protecting my child from a bullying environment?
The laws and policies outlined above were designed to protect our children from experiencing the physical and mental damages bullying causes, but unfortunately, students throughout New York and across the country are bullied daily.
Children shouldn’t dread going to school, they shouldn’t be afraid of their peers, and they shouldn’t feel as though they don’t have anywhere to turn.
If your child has been a victim of bullying, and your school district has not followed the State’s mandated policy (i.e. failed to take bullying events seriously, failed to report bullying, failed to maintain written records, failed to impose sanctions on bullies, etc.) contact us today. The Finkelstein & Partners Civil Rights Litigation Group is dedicated and focused on protecting the young citizens of our community, and ensuring those who cause harm or fail to prevent it are held accountable.
For more information on New York State Anti-Bullying Laws and Policies click here.