The impact of bullying on a child can last a lifetime and cause distress and give rise to tragic situations. Bullying is often in the media, and schools have a legal and moral duty to tackle it. It is often said that every school has an element of bullying, but it is how it is dealt with that really counts.
The internet and social media have had a great impact on every part of our lives. Whilst there are many advantages the examples of internet trolls, twitter victimisation of media figures and for many people have personal experience of malicious, spiteful and hurtful social media. Cyber bullying shows what a darker side the internet and technology can have.
Schools have to move with the times, and technological advances in the classroom need to be met with changes to behaviour and discipline policies. The Department for Education (DfE) has recently reviewed guidance for schools. The February 2014 guidance refers explicitly to bullying off the premises and makes it clear that cyber bullying is part of this.
Ofsted also have to be satisfied that schools and school leaders are making sure that children are safe and that discipline is good. A school that does not take a hard line against bullies on line and in everyday life risks public criticism and being ordered to change.
It sometimes surprises parents, pupils and schools that bullying can be a criminal offence. There are a number of laws that can apply to bullying, whether it is in school, out of school or online. Involving the police is often not what the school, pupils or parents want - but sometimes it may be the only answer.
Bullies should be tackled and school discipline and behaviour policies policies applied. The bullied pupil should not be made to leave the school, taken out of lessons or prevented from having a safe, normal daily routine. Pupils more likely to suffer bullying are often vulnerable, or with additional needs or physical disability. Schools have a duty to protect and promote children’s welfare.
Making sure your child has a safe, secure, nurturing learning environment should not require the instruction of a solicitor. You should always have confidence that your son or daughter is as safe at school as they are with you.What can I do to help?
- Make the school and governors take the situation seriously
- Provide information about action you can take
- Point out legal obligations and consequences to schools and governors
- Support parents and carers with complaints to heads, governors, Ofsted and even the Secretary of State for Education
However, some cases really benefit from this input, schools and governing bodies will on occasion take more notice and treat the issue more seriously, it shouldn’t be the case but sometimes it just is. I can also help ensure that everyone involved remembers what their legal obligations are, and it can help concentrate their minds. There is more advice in the blog section too.
Bullying cases benefit from very prompt attention, so please don’t hesitate, pick up the phone and take advantage of a free initial advice call.