Adults have legal recourse if someone harasses, discriminates against or physically assaults them at work or in public. Like many parents in Massachusetts, you would want the same protections for your children. Also like many parents, you understand that kids do not always follow the rules or realize that there can be serious consequences for hurting someone else.
According to the Massachusetts Legislature, schools prohibit bullying across the state. However, as you may realize, this behavior continues in most schools. Common bullying types in middle and high school include the following:
- Physical bullying – threatening, intimidating or physically harming another student
- Emotional bullying – taunting, belittling and ostracizing the other person
- Social media bullying – sending harassing, threatening or degrading messages through text messages, email or social media platforms
- Food allergy bullying – teasing the target for his or her food allergies or exposing the allergic student to a known allergen
At the beginning of each school year, you and other parents receive information about your children’s schools’ anti-bullying policies and procedures. These may include procedures on how to prevent bullying or report incidents as they occur. Often, schools encourage parents to notify teachers and school administration of a bullying problem. However, many parents will go over the administration’s heads and contact the police if they believe someone is bullying their children.
As you know, children may get involved in behavior due to peer pressure or trying to fit in, even if they don’t want to participate in something that can hurt others. Your children may not realize that they could be in trouble with law enforcement for bullying, or even if someone accuses them of bullying. It is important to talk to your kids about the potential consequences of bullying, and you should also know they are entitled to a competent defense if law enforcement gets involved.