Steps Schools Should Take to Prevent Bullying
How PA and NJ schools can protect students
You might speak to your son or daughter about ways to avoid being tormented by someone at school, but there is only so much you can do. Educational institutions have a legal responsibility to safeguard students and to take effective action in instances of bullying. However, this does not always happen. At The Pagano Law Firm, LLC in Radnor, we can explain the best practices schools should follow to prevent bullying and advise if a failure to follow these rules contributed to the harm suffered by your child.
Understanding the laws in PA and NJ that protect children from bullies
Families of children who have been mistreated sometimes are not aware of the legal options that exist to help people such as themselves. Our website’s guide to bullying in PA and NJ answers many common questions asked by victims and their parents. We take a personalized approach to each case and can detail how pertinent standards apply to your case so that you have a clear understanding of your options for legal relief.
Policies your schools should have in place to prevent bullying
Pennsylvania and New Jersey have laws detailing what anti-bullying measures must be in place, but token adherence to the law is not sufficient to foster a positive environment on school grounds. Putting a comprehensive policy on paper is only one small aspect of a school’s responsibility. Many of the following bullying prevention policies echo state statutes, but the commitment of school administrators, teachers and staff determine if they will be effective:
- Set forth clear terms on what constitutes bullying and how it will be punished
- Provide training to all school personnel on ways to stop all types of harassment
- Make sure that all students and staff understand the reporting system for bullying incidents
- Foster a positive school culture and send frequent messages that bullying will not be tolerated
- Maintain sufficient supervision in common areas, including hallways, playgrounds and buses
- Promote peer support and bystander intervention when a potential problem arises
- Collaborate with parents and community members to discourage bullying
- Offer support for victims as well as programs to address the root causes of inappropriate behavior
- Implement programs designed to prevent cyberbullying
- Track each incidence of bullying and frequently assess the effectiveness of prevention measures
When representing victims of bullying and their families, we don’t just address the specific incident but thoroughly investigate what led up to the problem so that we can identify all of the liable parties.
What schools should do when bullying occurs
After a student is bullied, the school is required to conduct a prompt investigation as to what occurred and should also consider the following measures:
- Enforce meaningful consequences that can include an official warning, notification to a bully’s parents, the scheduling of a parent conference, loss of school privileges, transfer to another classroom and suspension from school
- Provide support and offer counseling to the victim and their family
- Notify all involved parties of available resources designed to prevent bullying
- Consider mediation or another form of conflict resolution
- Involve law enforcement if warranted
- Review and update anti-bullying policies when appropriate
- Take active steps to establish a culture that discourages bullying and assures students that they can make anonymous reports regarding harassment without fear of being exposed
Good intentions are not enough to safeguard students, and pursuing damages in a lawsuit might be the only way to obtain a measure of justice while ensuring schools live up to their responsibilities.
Did failure to follow best practices cause your child to get bullied?
Knowing what to do if your child gets bullied can be the difference between a successful resolution and a failure to establish accountability. You should contact the school as soon as possible following the incident and ask them to provide you with a copy of, or link to, their anti-bullying policy. If you have a concern about whether the policy complies with state law or if the steps mandated by the policy were carried out correctly, you should consider speaking with an attorney who has experience handling these matters for bullying victims and their families.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania attorney if your child was bullied at school
With The Pagano Law Firm, LLC on your side to represent victims of bullying and their families throughout the southeastern Pennsylvania area, including Montgomery, Delaware, Chester and Philadelphia counties you can be confident that your interests will be a priority. You can schedule a consultation by calling 484-318-2561 or contacting us online. Our office is in Radnor.