Bullying / Harassment
It is a parent's worst nightmare when a child comes home from school
injured either from another student or even from school staff. When you
send your child off to school, you expect to be sending them to a safe
learning environment, however this is not always the case. Sometimes parents
can feel helpless because of their lack of control and inability to protect
their child in the school environment. Bullying should be taken seriously
and can have serious consequences on a child.
While the pain of a physical attack often fades quickly, being a social
outcast can last for months or years, and the social and emotional impact
can persist into adulthood (Estell & Chamberlin, 2003).
Special Education and Bullying
Children in special education or who have a 504 plan are especially vulnerable
to bullying and abuse
– but fortunately, they have more protections legally than regular
education children do in many instances. In one study, 90% of the mothers
of children with Asperger's syndrome reported that their child had
been a target of some form of bullying within the previous year (Little,
2002). Researchers believe this value may be a conservative estimate because
targets can be reluctant to report bullying even to their parents (Hay
et al. 2004, Attwood, 2004).
80% of adolescents and 90% of 4th through 8th graders reported being bullied
at school (Maine Project Against Bullying, 1998-2000). Students reported
that 71% of the teachers or other adults in the classroom ignored bullying
incidents (Maine Project Against Bullying, 1998-2000). There is evidence
showing peer group support for aggressive behaviors as early as the first
grade (Estell, et al., 2002).
Most states, including Indiana, do not yet collect information on bullying
incidents, although the accumulation and dissemination of such data would
seem to be useful in examining bullying in schools and determining why
it persists (Estell & Chamberlin, 2003). As of 2003, twenty-two states
have adopted policies to deal with bullying; Indiana is not one of the
states (Estell & Chamberlin, 2003). In 2005 Indiana adopted a token
attempt to address bullying by amending the discipline rules governing
school corporations to (1) prohibit bullying, (2) include provisions concerning
education, parental involvement, reporting, investigation, and intervention
apply to students (1) on school grounds, (2) at school activity, function,
or event, (3) traveling to or from school or school activity, function,
or event, or (4) using property or equipment provided by the school. However,
noncompliance with this section by the school may not be used as evidence
against the school (IC 20-33-8-13.5).
If you suspect sexual or any other type of abuse of your child by other
students or school staff, you should contact police and Child Protective
Services immediately, as well as attorney. Whether you and your child
are entitled to monetary damages or other remedies for what has transpired
is a time-sensitive, fact-sensitive inquiry.