Bullying in Schools: An Exploding Problem
The issue of bullying in schools has become an increasingly troublesome and difficult problem for parents and school officials to navigate. Although a recent television commentator (whose name I will not repeat) recently referred to bullying as a “fad”, this insensitive and uninformed comment is belied by the facts and the experiences of parents and educators.
As recently as ten to fifteen years ago, bullying commonly involved one-on-one contact between a bully and a victim, often in unstructured or unsupervised areas of a school building such as a locker room or a stairwell. Audiences to the bullying, if any, were typically small in number. However, changes in technology and the media have created dramatically greater capacity for bullies to harm vulnerable children, and especially children with disabilities and/or gender issues.
With the advent of social media and internet-based communications (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, etc.) a demeaning and hurtful statement can be broadcast to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of recipients instantaneously, with grievous emotional harm to individual victims. Hurtful comments can then be re-broadcast by fellow bullies, thus exponentially increasing the harm to individual students. Moreover, the “entertainment industry” has widened its reach, with an explosion of cable networks and internet-based programs which frequently present highly confrontational and excessively demeaning interpersonal relationships between individuals, and even groups of friends and/or family. Unfortunately, children who view such episodes can come to believe that such relationships are acceptable and even typical.
McAndrews Law Offices has handled a substantial number of cases which involve bullying of vulnerable populations. We frequently present seminars on this topic, and in connection with this article provide links below to the materials on this topic from the United States Department of Education and McAndrews Law Offices. These links are as follows:
- United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS): August 20, 2013 Dear Colleague Letter
- United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: October 26, 2010 Dear Colleague Letter
- United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: July 25, 2000 Dear Colleague Letter
- United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights – Questions and Answers on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 for Students with Disabilities Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools