Bullying at School
Expert Education Law advice courtesy of the dedicated team of nationally respected specialist lawyers at HCB.
Although there is no legal definition of bullying, the definition from the Department of Education is widely accepted by the legal sector. Physical and verbal abuse can have a lasting effect on a child, and can often be worsened if they won’t share their distress out of fear.
It is therefore important for parents to be mindful of the signs that a child is being bullied. This could include increased anxiety, a reduced enthusiasm to go to school, lack of sleep, unexplained injuries or damaged possessions, and a noticeable difference in mood.
How can schools prevent bullying?
Every school has a duty to protect and promote the welfare of their pupils, and should have guidelines in place to prevent bullying. It is the responsibility of each school to implement and monitor these rules and you are entitled to access this information as a parent, but it is the duty of care on the school that means they ultimately can be held accountable if these rules are not followed.
Schools are also comprehensively advised to create a positive atmosphere of respect, while also regularly discussing anti bullying strategies in assemblies and staff meetings. Staff should also be well versed in appropriately dealing with any altercations that may arise, and feel confident on how to intervene.
As soon as you are aware there may be an issue of bullying at your child’s school, you should immediately inform the school so that it can be dealt with swiftly. Schools are expected to take an active approach in order to quickly and efficiently implement the appropriate action and/or disciplinary measures.
It is a requirement of schools in England and Wales to follow anti-discrimination laws, so staff must always strive to prevent any kind of harassment, abuse, or victimisation.
What can I do if a school is ignoring bullying?
As a parent, it can be difficult not to try and take matters into your own hands. If a school is ignoring the issues you have presented to them, there are potential risks you should be aware of should you choose to continue sending your child to that school.
When you are notifying a school about a potential bullying problem, it is vitally important to clearly explain the specifics of the situation, as communication is key. Make sure to secure a copy of the school’s anti bullying policy, so that you can request an action plan of what your school intends to do.
If this plan does not have the desired outcome for yourself and your child, you can take your complain to the Head Teacher, the Local Authority, or the Board of Governors.
In some cases, bullying can constitute a criminal offence if there has been a threat of violence, actual violence, assault, criminal damage, harassment, theft, hate crimes, or cases of intimidation via cyberbullying. In these instances, the case should be reported to the school and the police.
How can I stop my child from being bullied?
Unless you have a prior arrangement with the school, it is not recommended to keep your child home during school hours in order to avoid bullying, as this can lead to a Local Authority prosecution for failing to give your child adequate full time education.
You can, however, make a request to the Local Authority if you believe your child would be in significant danger at school, though the Local Authority is also required to intervene if there is evidence of a continued decline in discipline at the school. You are entitled to educate your child at home, provided you can supply evidence that you are capable of delivering satisfactory education to suit your child’s age and ability, in addition to meeting any special education needs they may require. This will often mean producing a full learning plan for the Local Authority to approve.
Can I sue the school if they won’t stop my child from being bullied?
From a legal standpoint, schools have a duty to do all they can to prevent and protect their students from all types of bullying. If they fail in this duty, they can be held legally accountable for the suffering of that child if they could have put measures in place to prevent it.
In this case, it would be possible to sue the school, however, solicitors will most likely advise against this as it can be a complex procedure, causing more stress for parents and their children. You would need sufficient proof that the school has failed in its duty to uphold their anti-bullying policy, rather than just proving your child has been bullied. It is best to seek specialist legal advice if you are considering this route.
What are the different types of bullying?
Bullying is usually defined as the act of repeating unkind behaviour that intentionally hurts someone else either physically or emotionally. The most common types of bullying at school include name calling, teasing, assault, cyberbullying, damaging possessions, making threats, peer pressure, and victimisation.
How can a solicitor help if my child is being bullied?
If you are in a position to prove a school’s negligence in a bullying case and you do wish to take legal action, one of our education solicitors will be able to guide you through the to ensure the most beneficial outcome for you. Our solicitors will take into account the best long term options for you and your family, and will always make sure to keep the process as simple and swift as possible.
HCB Education Solicitors have been helping parents and their children regarding school issues for many years, and as such are renowned for their ability to achieve the best results for you. Give us a call today to discuss any concerns you may have and one of our solicitors will be able to help.
If you don’t want to take legal action yet, or want to consider your other options, there are many support groups and charities to help if you are worried about your child facing bullying at school:
The Anti-Bullying Alliance: