Can I Charge a Bully With Assault?
This depends on the specifics of the situation, but you could have a potential claim against the person who assaulted your child as well as against the school. Children that attend school have a constitutional right to a full and fair education. Schools have an obligation to provide safety for the students that attend the school. For example if the school is aware that a student is being harassed and bullied and does nothing to rectify the situation, then you may have a potential case. We recommend you get a copy of the board of education rules and regulations and see if the administration is following the board of education guidelines.
If you press charges, you have the option of charging the offender with assault. If that person is under the age of 17, they will typically be charged as a juvenile, so different rules apply here. In the eyes of the law, these offenders are not criminals, they are “delinquents.” Simple assault charges may result in house arrest, community service, or simply ordering counseling with a probationary period. Every case is different.
If your child was injured on school property, you may want to choose to let the school administration handle the situation. Often schools have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. If your child was being bullied, the school may end up suspending or expelling the offender. However, sometimes this is not enough to stop future incidents. If the school district’s policies does not handle these cases properly or doesn’t do enough to stop the bully, assault charges may be the best course of action. You should speak with a school administrator before you decide on what to do.
What Is Assault?
We often hear the term assault and battery and assume they are interchangeable. In reality, these are two distinct and punishable events. An “assault” is legally defined as any attempt to injure someone else. In some cases, even threatening behavior can be construed as assault. One way to look at assault is as an “attempted battery.” That is, you do not necessarily have to make physical contact to be charged with assault.
Battery, on the other hand, requires physical, harmful contact. This contact must be intentional and without consent. In a typical “beat up at school” scenario, an aggressor may be charged with assault and battery. If a bully threatens to beat up another classmate but does not actually harm him or her physically, the aggressor may still be charged with assault.
How to Stop Bullying
As parents, we are governed by a fierce instinct to protect our children. There is little we will not do to keep them out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, we cannot always guarantee their safety. When away from our watchful eye, our kids can get hurt. It is natural to want recourse for the parties responsible for our children’s suffering. So how can we help?
Putting an end to bullying as soon as it happens is the best way to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Adults should always look out for signs of bullying and step in when possible. Teaching your children to spot the signs of bullying is also an important step in ending the vicious cycle of bullying. To stop bullying, adults should:
- Intervene immediately. Ask another adult for help if necessary.
- Separate any and all children involved.
- Make sure all parties involved are safe and unharmed.
- Provide any medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
- Show respectful behavior when you intervene as an example for the children.
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Don’t ignore the bullying thinking the children will sort it out.
- Don’t try to immediately sort out the situation.
- Don’t force any of the kids to tell you what they saw publicly.
- Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.
- Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
- Don’t make the kids involved apologize or fix relations on the spot.
Support groups and resources can be found below. If you believe your child is being bullied at school, reaching out to one of these support sites could mean the world to your child.
- PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
- Committee for Children
- The Bully Project
Pursuing Personal Injury Claims
Depending on the extent of your child’s injuries, you may be struggling to pay for the subsequent medical bills. The emotional side effects also take their toll; you may even consider therapy to help your child through a traumatizing experience. All of these treatments cost money, and you rightfully feel that you should not have to pay the price for someone else’s actions. If your child’s bully has been charged with juvenile simple assault, the courts may order that the assailant pay restitution as part of his or her punishment. If not, you may receive compensation from the negligent party responsible for your child’s injuries through other channels.
In these types of situations, either the school district or the bully’s parents may be considered the guilty party. Each case is unique, so we suggest that you speak to an attorney in your area who handles these types of cases.