According to experts, in 2016 more than 250,000 students ages 5 to 18 were bullied in New York alone. Any repeated interpersonal behavior between children/adolescents, intended to cause physical or psychological harm is considered bullying.
Most instances of bullying fall into one of these four categories:
- Physical Coercion
- Hostile Teasing
- Emotional Bullying
- Cyber Bullying
Parents rely on school administration and educators to not only recognize different types of bullying but to take action when bullying occurs. New York State has anti-bullying laws and policies designed to prevent harassment, bullying, intimidation, etc. These laws and policies require each school district to enforce policies designed to keep children safe from bullying (click here to read more about NYS anti-bullying laws). Unfortunately, the failure of school districts across the country to prevent bullying has resulted in an alarming number of tragedies.
Often times parents have no idea their child is being bullied, even though schools are legally required to notify parents of bullying. Parents, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with signs of bullying:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
Cyberbullying is also a major issue, especially amongst older children. The following are signs your child may be experiencing cyberbullying or is cyberbullying others:
- Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting.
- A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device.
- A child hides their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device.
- Social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear.
- A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past.
- A child becomes withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities.
It may be hard to believe, but bullying is an issue in cities and towns throughout the country, and occurs far too often. The Finkelstein & Partners, LLP Civil Rights Litigation Group is dedicated to seeking justice for victims of bullying. Click here to learn more about bullying in New York and how to school administrators accountable for failing to prevent bullying.