Bullying is such an incredibly difficult subject. It’s painful for the victim and can have incredibly serious consequences, especially if it is relentless. Statistics show that one child per class is bullied every single day. That’s a terrifying statistic, and if you have been bullied before, you’ll know that those children are likely living through literal hell.
If your child is being bullied, you are no doubt desperate to solve the issue, for the safety and wellbeing of your child. But when children are involved it can be really difficult, because you have to be really careful about the way you approach the subject. Intimidating a child, even if they are a bully, is never a good idea.
Things are complicated even more if your child is being bullied at school, when they are technically under the responsibility of another set of adults. You’ll absolutely want your child’s teachers to step in and help you solve the problem, and you’ll hope that they’ll be able to give you an overview of the situation and a way to sort it out.
But if you have exhausted all of that, you might be wondering what action you can legally take to sort out the problem yourself. This handy guide should help.
Is bullying illegal?
Some forms of bullying are illegal and can be reported to the police. If a child is in immediate danger, you should absolutely call 999.
You should call the emergency number if there’s an ongoing episode of violence or assault, theft, repeated harassment (like abusive calls or texts), and hate crimes. You should also contact the police if you child has suffered physical abuse or sexual abuse.
Police will also take the following very seriously:
- theft of money or valuables,
- criminal damage to valuables,
- malicious texts, emails and phone calls,
- online defamation or harassment.
If your child is not in immediate danger, it’s a good idea to gather some evidence, like screenshots or witnesses. These will strengthen your case.
What if I don’t need to call 999?
By law, all schools should have a behaviour policy that deals with bullying amongst pupils. This is individual to all schools, so they might deal with bullying differently.
If you don’t feel as though your child’s school has dealt with an incident of bullying appropriately, you can make a formal complaint to the school.
Schools must take all reasonable measures to ensure that risks of harm to children and their welfare are minimised as far as possible. Before you enroll your child in a school, it might be worth asking to see a copy of their anti-bullying framework.
If you have a concern about your child and their welfare, the school is also obligated to address concerns about the welfare of a child, and they must work in accordance with local policies and procedures in partnership with other local agencies where this is appropriate.
Bullying is a child protection concern if a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, considerable harm. In this case, school staff should report the bullying incident to their local authority children’s social care.
Schools are expected to implement measures that encourage good behaviour and respect for others as part of their wider initiatives to prevent bullying from happening in the first place.
All reports of bullying must be properly dealt with by the school and actions must be taken to prevent further incidents on school premises or areas surrounding the school.
What do I do?
If you are unhappy with the way an incident of bullying has been dealt with by the school, you need to contact the head teacher, as this person is responsible for the anti-bullying policy at the school.
Arrange to meet the head teacher, and present a list of incidents of bullying, including times, locations and people involved. This can include witnesses who will help you support your case.
You should also write to the school, presenting as much detail as possible, and ask them how they will follow it up. If you don’t have a copy of the anti-bullying policy, now is the time to ask for it.
Most of the time, you’ll find your school responds positively, and that they work with you to stop the bullying from happening. If they don’t, do not give up.
Can I sue my child’s school for not dealing with bullying?
Theoretically, yes. However, it is advisable to only pursue this course of action if you have no other choice.You can only raise a case against your child’s school if they have failed to adhere to their legal responsibilities, and you might need a lawyer to determine if that is the case or not. A solicitor specialising in educational negligence is your best option.
You will need to prove that the school failed to adhere to their anti-bullying policies, or that they didn’t have one in place at all.
I need legal advice about bullying
If you’re not sure what to do next and you need legal advice, JMR Solicitors can help. Call 0161 491 3933, or email email@example.com.