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Is a school liable for bullying?

As a country, we are currently in a very interesting cultural moment. More so than at just about any other point in time, people in every corner of society must consider the potential consequences of their actions if they act unfairly toward someone else. After years (or centuries, even) of those with little regard for the wellbeing of others preying on them, especially inside of a school setting, institutions and individuals are beginning to understand that bullying can carry serious penalties.

These penalties may affect not only the individuals accused of bullying, but also institutions themselves, should they knowingly turn a blind eye to the buying behavior. While the specifics of this area of the law are still working themselves out in the legal system, the headlines are fairly clear. The age of bullying with impunity or claiming "boys will be boys" may soon close out for good.

If you or someone you love suffer from bullying, especially inside an educational institution of some sort, it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney who understands the legal issues surrounding filing charges involving bullying. Professional legal counsel from an attorney with experience in bullying claims can help you examine the details of your particular experience and identify strong paths forward to justice.

Are schools liable for bullying?

The issue of school liability for bullying may vary significantly depending on the nature of the offense and whether any member of an institution's faculty knew or should reasonably have known that the offense took place.

A number of factors may affect the nature of a bullying claim, and may greatly affect the scope of its reach:

  • Is the bullying directed at a person or group of people who belong to a protected class under civil rights law?
  • Does a member of faculty with authority to do something know about the offense?
  • Is the bullying particularly spiteful or physically aggressive?
  • Has the institution failed to respond properly?

Depending on how many of these standards your experience meets, you may have solid grounds to file a claim. In some instances, it may make sense to file a claim as a personal injury claim, while in other instances it is more effective as a civil rights violation claim.

Are parents liable for bullying?

In some instances, usually depending on the nature of an offense and the relative age or agency of a child who commits bullying, a parent may face some penalties for the actions of a child. Usually, this comes down to the laws of the state, but a town in New York recently explored local ordinances that would shoulder parents with legal responsibility if their teenager bullied.

It is not always easy to know where to begin with these issues. Often, the simplest thing to do is reach out to an experienced attorney and have a professional conversation about the legal options you have available.

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