Bullying is a terrible offense that should never be tolerated. Thankfully, in recent years, this issue has gained a lot more attention and more laws are being passed to prevent bullying and protect victims. But even with this progress, winning a claim or lawsuit for bullying can be an uphill battle. This is often due to two key reasons:
- It’s difficult to sue a minor. You run into a legal landmine when trying to sue a minor. The fault can fall on the child’s parents or guardian if they did not properly handle the issue and in which case they may be sued. But even this process can be difficult and confusing.
- Public schools and some private institutions have governmental immunity. This means that since they receive federal funding, they can’t be sued. However, there may be ways around this if school officials were negligent while carrying out their job duties at the time of the incident.
Considering the legal red tape around bullying laws, it’s best to speak with a lawyer if you believe you may have a claim against a bully or the school. But how do you know if it’s time to talk to a lawyer about bullying? Here are a few things to consider as you make that decision.
In This Article:
- The School’s Efforts to Stop the Bullying Have Not Been Enough
- The Bullying is Severe
- Results in Self-harm or Suicide
- Violates Federal and State Discrimination and Harassment Laws
- We Are On a Mission to Stop Bullying
The School’s Efforts to Stop the Bullying Have Not Been Enough
All 50 states have laws that make bullying illegal. The Illinois School Code and Administrative Rules (105 ILCS 5/27-23.7) is the law that defines what bullying is, including cyberbullying, and how schools are to respond. The Illinois School Board of Education enforces these rules, requiring that all public schools, non-sectarian nonpublic schools, and charter schools create policies concerning bullying prevention. These policies must then be filed with the Illinois School Board of Education and are re-evaluated every 2 years.
So it is the school official’s responsibility to take adequate action to stop bullying when it happens. They must start looking into reports of bullying within 10 days. If you feel that the school is not doing enough to stop you or your child from being bullied or their efforts have been ineffective, it may be time to speak with a lawyer. Approaching the school with legal representation may encourage them to take the matter more seriously and be more motivated to find a solution. A lawyer can also help you understand your legal rights and protections.
The Bullying is Severe
Bullying can come in many different forms. While any type of bullying is incredibly harmful, some are more severe than others such as:
- physical violence
- sexual harassment
- sexual violence
- destruction of property
Bullying victims who have endured severe abuse and harassment should consider getting a lawyer involved sooner than later. This type of abuse cannot stand. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover damages for any bodily harm, theft, or property damage that resulted from bullying. This can be particularly difficult, especially when minors are involved, so having an experienced attorney who understands bullying law can be especially important for your case
An attorney will also be able to help you decide if it is time to speak to the police about the harassment and potentially bring criminal charges. Again, this may be difficult to navigate with minors involved so it’s important for you to have legal representation.
Bullying Results in Self-Harm or Suicide
Bullying is painful and damaging. The emotional and psychological impact it can have on a victim can be catastrophic. If your child has attempted or died by suicide, it’s time to talk to a lawyer. You may be able to file a wrongful death claim or collect damages for expenses required after an attempt such as hospital stays, treatment, or therapy.
In Illinois, schools must notify the parents or guardians of the students involved with bullying within 24 hours. So if you were unaware of any bullying when your child died but the school district was and it didn’t notify you, it may be liable as well and should be held responsible.
** If you or a loved one is feeling hopeless, helpless, or have had thoughts of suicide or self-harm, CALL or TEXT 988 to get help now.
Federal and State Discrimination and Harassment Laws Are Violated
As federally funded entities, schools must adhere to federal and state discrimination and harassment laws. This means that bullying victims may have a legal claim if the school ignores the abusive behavior or fails to adequately protect and prevent the harassment due to the victim’s protected class. Examples of laws the school may be in violation of include:
- Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, or race
- Education Amendments of 1972. Prohibits discrimination based on sex
- Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability
Ultimately, a lawyer will know if a bullying victim’s civil rights are being violated and the proper steps to take to hold all negligent parties responsible for any damages.
We Are on a Mission to Stop Bullying
At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we are on a mission to stop bullying. We want to hold all at-fault and negligent parties responsible for the severe harm this type of abusive behavior can cause. You don’t have to go through this alone. Having a lawyer in your corner who understands bullying laws in Illinois can help you feel empowered to stand up for yourself or your child.
If you think it’s time to talk to a lawyer about bullying, contact us today for a FREE consult. We can help determine if you have an actionable case and if so, how to win against bullying once and for all. Call (312) 600-6000.