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Why School Bullying Should Be Taken Seriously

Today a tragic post about a 15 year old girl landed in my email. The girl committed suicide as the result of bullying.In California, legislation has been enacted to prevent bullying in schools, however, as parents navigating the world of bullying has become complicated given all of the social media outlets out there for posting harassing and inappropriate comments.The relevant laws related to bullying include, but are not limited to:
§ 48900.4. Additional grounds for suspension or expulsion; harassment, threats, or intimidationIn addition to the grounds specified in Sections 48900 and 48900.2, a pupil enrolled in any of grades 4 to 12, inclusive, may be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has intentionally engaged in harassment, threats, or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or pupils, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the actual and reasonably expected effect of materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder... .
In addition, the students in the above scenario are facing criminal charges.
For many children, communicating to their parents or getting help is a nonexistent option. For children who are disabled, sensitive to social norms or simply afraid to be different, bullying can rise to the level of trauma.
We hope that parents, educators, counselors and all adults who work with children in our schools take very seriously all forms of bullying whether it is in writing or it involves some physical abuse.
While this is not intended as legal advice, if you believe that your child may be the subject of bullying consider the following:
1. If you are the  parent of a child with special needs, consider asking for supports in the IEP such as extra counselling, behavior services or supervision during unstructured time.
2. If your child is not disabled, and you are aware of bullying or suspect your child is being bullied, immediately contact the school administration in writing and file a formal complaint.
3. Sometimes it is necessary to seek a restraining order and this can be done through the Court system. See e.g.
http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/protection/introresord.htm
This post is not intended as legal advice. If you believe you require legal advice, you should seek a consultation or to retain an attorney.

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