School Bullying in Maryland: a Primer for Parents
Crazy as it sounds, another summer is coming to an end which means another school year is about to start. While most of our focus is on buying the supplies our children need like books, notepads and calculators, the truth is that we as parents have deeper anxieties associated with our children going back to school.
One of the main ones (that I share) is the fear that our children will be the victim of bullying. There is no more helpless feeling for a parent than a sad and crying child complaining about being mistreated at school and the sense that you are powerless to stop it. The level of emotional distress. mental anguish and pain and suffering experienced by our children – and us as parents – is often overwhelming.
There is good news however. Over the last few years, the Maryland legislature has sought to address bullying in educational settings and there is now a very robust system in place to help parents and teachers address and remedy school-place bullying. And especially given the advent and proliferation of social media, there is an additional emphasis placed on cyberbullying as well. We live in a new technologically-based world and long gone are the days when bullying consisted only of aggressive behavior. It is far more psychological today and that frequently inflicts an even more insidious type of emotional distress. And whether inflicted intentionally or recklessly, the consequences to the bullied child are the same.
As mentioned, the legislature has taken steps to try and remedy this ever-evolving situation. First, there are now laws in place that specifically define what constitutes bullying and harassment so that it is no longer as subject to interpretation as may previously have been the case.
Second, local Boards of Education are required to implement and maintain policies and procedures for dealing with bullying. All local Boards of Education are also required to submit these policies and procedures to the State Superintendent and they are also obligated to update those policies every five (5) years.
As anti-bullying policies have been developed, there has also been a focus on increased involvement and training for teachers to identify and assist in eliminating any bullying. Additionally, local Boards are mandated to develop local policies in consultation with parents or guardians of students, school employees, teachers and administrators, students, and other members of the community.
The reporting of bullying has also been made easier with an emphasis placed on student confidentiality and safety so as to ensure that they are comfortable reporting instances to either parents or teachers. And while punishments for instances of bullying can be severe, one of the more interesting elements of the standard policy that students who had previously engaged in bullying should be commended and praised for exhibiting improved behavior.
For more information about the Model Policy from the Maryland State Board of Education, follow this link:
All of this should provide significant comfort to all parents who have that perpetual fear that their children will be the subject of bullying. While there are certainly no guarantees that our children will be able to avoid that fate, Maryland law now makes it far easier to deal with this issue which, in turn, should help improve and enrich our childrens’ school lives.
There is also an additional benefit. Given these specific requirements that schools are obligated to follow, if a parent believes that their child is a victim of bullying and that the school has not acted appropriately to prevent or eliminate the behavior, that parent may have a personal injury claim against the school. If you are reading this and believe this may apply to you or your child, you should not delay in contacting an experienced personal injury attorney who can help determine whether or not you have a claim and then navigate you through the legal and emotional challenges of pursuing that claim.
Contact Dubo Law at (443) 275-6345 and we can schedule a free consultation to determine whether you and your child may have a claim for physical injury and emotional distress. There is no fee unless we recover on your behalf, so there is no risk to you. Call us today and let us fight for you!