Dealing with Bullies

October 10, 2012

Schools have always had playground antagonisers, but with the advent of the internet and the increasing availability of mobile phones, bullying is becoming more pervasive and sinister. Modern communication means the taunts can fly 24 hours a day, and cruel rumours sometimes spread across communities within minutes.

From a legal perspective, serious bullying can potentially give rise to action against the perpetrators, the school and even the parents. Where the perpetrators’ responsible supervisors are aware or should be aware of the bullying and fail to act to prevent it, they can potentially be held liable. Depending upon the nature and severity of the bullying, criminal charges may even be brought by the police.

Prevention is obviously far more desirable than recriminations, and thankfully, concerned parents don’t have to sit by and watch. There are many sources of help available to those on the receiving end of bullying. There are government support agencies, counselling services and school liaisons. One of the best ways of dealing with such bullying is communication:

  • With your child – be approachable and alert to any indications that your child if they find themselves in bullying situation. Congratuate your child on sharing the situation with you and assure them that you want to support them. Calmly talk wh your child as you establish a clear understanding of what has occurred.
  • With the school – if you have concerns, be sure to communicate them clearly and reasonably. Understand the difficulty of the teachers’ position, and remember that if you were unaware of the bullying, they may be also.

Whatever your child’s situation, your goal is to defuse the situation, so try to remain calm and cooperative and maintain clear communication. In fact, most problems can be dealt with through simple communication.

If however you feel that your concerns are not being addressed or that the continuing problems are endangering your child’s safety and welfare, you may need to take matters further. A lawyer can try to help you ensure that the relevant authorities take the issue seriously, and can guide you in resolving bullying that has already occurred.

If you need legal advice on addressing the bullying problems your child has experienced, contact our Martin Reilly on (03) 9870 9870.

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