School Bullying

School bullying, a distressing reality in many educational institutions, comes in various forms - from physical confrontations to verbal harassment and the increasingly prevalent cyberbullying. The consequences of school bullying are devastating, often leading to emotional trauma, psychological distress, and a significant disruption in the victim’s educational and personal development. The ripple effects extend to families, who must try to help their children through this traumatic time while seeking effective change in California school systems.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we recognize the resilience and courage it takes for survivors and their families to stand against school bullying. Our approach is not just about legal representation; it's about providing your family with the support you need to move forward.

Our Attorneys Hold Bullies & Schools Accountable

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., our legal team brings extensive experience and a dedicated approach to holding school bullies and educational institutions accountable. Understanding the profound impact that bullying, especially in a school environment, can have on young lives, our firm is committed to seeking justice and creating safer educational spaces.

We work diligently to ensure that survivors' voices are heard, their rights are protected, and those responsible for causing harm are held accountable. This includes addressing the actions of individual bullies and scrutinizing the schools' role in mitigating or failing to prevent these harmful behaviors. By taking a comprehensive approach that considers all aspects of a bullying case, we aim to provide justice for the affected families and drive systemic change within schools and communities.

The Audrie Pott Case: A Testament to Our Advocacy and Impact

One of the most notable cases that highlights our firm's commitment and impact is the tragic story of Audrie Pott. In 2012, Audrie, a high school student, became a victim of sexual assault perpetrated by three male classmates. Following the assault, she faced intense bullying and shaming from her peers, leading to her heartbreaking decision to take her own life eight days later.

The Audrie Pott case was a turning point not only for our firm but also for California law. Attorney Lauren Cerri's involvement in this case went beyond the courtroom. She played a pivotal role in lobbying for legislative change, demonstrating our firm's dedication to individual cases and broader social impact.

As a direct result of these efforts, California law was amended to increase penalties for teens convicted of sexual acts against individuals who are unable to give consent. This legal change marked a significant step forward in protecting young people and holding perpetrators accountable, reflecting our firm's commitment to fighting for justice and fostering societal change.

What is School Bullying?

School bullying is a complex and distressing issue that affects numerous children and adolescents across various educational settings. It's characterized by an imbalance of power, where one or more students repeatedly and intentionally cause harm, discomfort, or distress to another student. This behavior can manifest in several forms, each with its unique impact on the survivor.

  • Physical Bullying: This is perhaps the most recognizable form of bullying. It involves physical aggression such as hitting, pushing, tripping, or any other form of physical assault. Physical bullying can lead to both visible injuries and internalized trauma.
  • Verbal Bullying: Words can be just as harmful as actions. Verbal bullying includes taunting, name-calling, insulting, or making derogatory remarks. This form of bullying can significantly impact a child's self-esteem and mental health.
  • Social Bullying: Also known as relational bullying, this involves harming someone’s reputation or social standing. This can include spreading rumors, purposefully excluding someone from a group, or embarrassing someone in public. Social bullying can be particularly insidious as it aims to isolate the survivor from their peer group.
  • Cyberbullying: With the rise of digital platforms, bullying can also occur online. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can be especially damaging as it allows the bully to reach a wide audience and can occur at any time.
  • Psychological Bullying: This form involves tactics such as intimidation, manipulation, and stalking. It aims to instill fear or anxiety in the survivor.

Bullying, irrespective of its form, can have profound effects on a child's well-being. It can lead to a wide range of emotional and psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. The impact can also extend to academic performance, where survivors may experience decreased concentration, declining grades, and sometimes avoidance of school altogether.

How Common is School Bullying?

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, one out of every five students reports being bullied, a statistic that highlights the widespread nature of this problem. Interestingly, there are notable differences in the types of bullying experienced by male and female students. While a higher percentage of male students report being physically bullied, female students more frequently find themselves the subjects of rumors or cyberbullying.

The impact of bullying is profound and lasting. About 41% of students who have been bullied believe it could happen to them again, reflecting a lingering sense of vulnerability and fear. These incidents are not confined to any one area of the school; they occur in hallways, classrooms, cafeterias, and even online, making them a pervasive part of many students' daily lives.

The data is even more concerning among younger students. Patchin & Hinduja's research in 2020 revealed that nearly half of tweens (ages 9 to 12) have experienced bullying at school, with a significant portion also facing bullying online. This dual front of bullying, both in person and digital, creates an environment where no place feels entirely safe for those affected.

How Can I Tell If My Child is Being Bullied?

Identifying if your child is being bullied can be challenging, as children often do not openly communicate about these issues. However, there are several signs you can watch for that may indicate your child is experiencing bullying:

  • Physical Signs: Unexplained injuries like bruises, cuts, or scratches are clear indicators. Also, pay attention if your child frequently comes home with damaged or missing belongings, such as torn clothing, destroyed books, or missing school supplies.
  • Health Complaints: A child experiencing bullying might frequently complain of physical ailments without a clear medical cause. These could include headaches, stomach aches, or general feelings of being unwell, often used as reasons to avoid going to school.
  • Changes in Eating Habits: You may notice significant changes in your child’s eating habits. This could manifest as a loss of appetite, binge eating, or requests to avoid the school cafeteria.
  • Academic Performance: A drop in grades or a sudden disinterest in schoolwork can be a sign of bullying. The stress and anxiety caused by bullying can make it difficult for a child to concentrate and perform academically.
  • Avoidance of Social Situations: If your child starts to isolate themselves, shows reluctance to participate in social activities they previously enjoyed, or avoids certain situations like riding the school bus, it might be due to bullying.
  • Emotional and Behavioral Changes: Watch for signs of distress, anxiety, or depression. These can include mood swings, tearfulness, irritability, and a decline in self-esteem. A bullied child might also display changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping.
  • Fear of Technology: In cases of cyberbullying, a child might suddenly appear fearful or anxious when receiving text messages, emails, or during social media interactions. They may also avoid or unexpectedly delete their social media accounts.
  • Changes in Friendship Dynamics: A sudden change in your child’s circle of friends or a complete lack of friends can indicate social bullying. They might feel excluded or rejected by their peers.

Remember, these signs can also indicate other issues, so it's important to approach the situation sensitively. Open a dialogue with your child, asking open-ended questions about their day-to-day experiences in a non-confrontational manner. Reassure them that you are there to support and help them. If you suspect your child is being bullied, contact their school and seek professional counseling. If your child suffers serious harm or is a victim of violence, contact our law firm immediately.

What To Do If Your Child is a Victim of School Bullying?

If your child is a victim of school bullying, it's crucial to take immediate and thoughtful action to support them and address the issue. Firstly, create a safe and open environment at home where your child feels comfortable sharing their experiences. Listen attentively and empathetically, validating their feelings without minimizing the situation.

Document the details of the bullying incidents, including dates, times, and descriptions. This record will be invaluable when communicating with the school, authorities, or your legal team. Approach your child's school and inform them of the situation. Schools have protocols for handling bullying and must be aware of what's happening to take appropriate measures.

Seek professional help if needed. This could be counseling for your child to help them deal with the emotional impact of bullying or legal advice if your child suffers harm. A lawyer can help you understand your child's legal rights and the school's obligations under state and federal laws.

If the bullying situation involves discrimination based on race, gender, disability, or other protected classes, a lawyer can help navigate the complexities of filing complaints with the appropriate state or federal agencies, such as the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

If your child’s bullying involves sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or assault, your attorney can help pursue justice against their abuser. A lawyer can also hold the school accountable if it does not adequately address the bullying. Schools must provide a safe learning environment, and legal intervention can be necessary to compel schools to fulfill this obligation.

Above all, reassure your child that they are not alone and that the bullying is not their fault. Your support and advocacy are vital in helping them through this traumatic time.

California Tightens Bullying Laws

In recent years, the state has enacted cyberbullying laws that focus on harassment perpetrated through the internet, social media, instant messaging, and other digital means, including text messaging. These laws empower schools to take decisive action against cyberbullying, including the suspension or expulsion of students who engage in such harmful activities.

According to statistics from NoBullying.com, a worrying 25 percent of teenagers have reported experiencing repeated bullying through their cell phones or online. The consequences of cyberbullying can be devastating, as tragically demonstrated in the case of Audrie Pott.

One significant aspect of California's cyberbullying law is its reach beyond school premises. School officials can now respond to conduct occurring off school grounds, particularly when such actions disrupt school activities. This extension of authority is grounded in the Supreme Court's ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which allows schools to act when off-campus speech causes substantial disruption to the school environment.

A key legal precedent in California is the recognition that cyberbullying is not a form of protected free speech, especially when it involves threats of violence. The law does not shield them under the First Amendment, even if these threats are not carried out.

In cases where bullying or cyberbullying escalates, legal avenues are available for seeking justice. Hate crime charges or defamation lawsuits can be pursued against the bullies, their parents, and even the school district.

Compensation in bullying cases can be sought from various sources, including the bullies themselves, their parents, their parents’ homeowners' insurance, and the school district. For families dealing with bullying or cyberbullying, seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney can be a crucial step in stopping the abuse and achieving justice.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against My Child’s Bully or the School?

Filing a lawsuit directly against the bully, especially if they are a minor, typically involves legal action against the bully's parents or guardians. The basis for such a lawsuit can vary, but common grounds include intentional infliction of emotional distress or assault.

Suing a school is more complex due to the various legal protections that schools and school districts have. However, if the school failed in its duty to provide a safe learning environment or was negligent in responding to reported bullying, it should face liability. This is more likely in cases where there is a clear record of the school being informed about the bullying and failing to take appropriate action.

We Fight Back Against Bullies & Protect California Youth

As parents, when we send our children off to school, we trust that school will nurture their growth, not hinder it. If your child is facing the harsh realities of bullying, know that you are not powerless. It's time to take a decisive step towards protecting your child and upholding their rights.

If your child is being bullied, and you've found the response from the school inadequate or your concerns dismissed, it may be time to seek legal counsel. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we understand the deep impact bullying can have on a child's life - emotionally, physically, and academically. Our experienced team ensures that your child's voice is heard and their rights are protected.

Our attorneys thoroughly understand California laws and policies surrounding school bullying and can guide you through the legal avenues available. We can help hold the responsible parties accountable, whether that involves pursuing action against the bully’s family, the school, or the school district.

Don’t let bullying define your child’s school experience. Contact Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P. today for a consultation, and let us be your ally in this crucial fight for your child’s well-being and rights. Together, we can take a stand for justice and healing.

Client Reviews
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In my experience and in my abusive past, the power was taken away from me. I received my power back going through this process. I received my voice back. Allison B.
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There's a lot of people who are focused on monetary gain and I didn't feel that with attorney Bob Allard. I felt like their priority, in addition to vindicating me, was to take care of me and to get justice for what was right. Stevie G.
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The compassion Bob Allard felt for our needs and concerns was immeasurable. He knew and understood our apprehensions and fears, and dealt with them in a professional and caring manner. Laura H.
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