You feel absolutely helpless. Your child comes home from school every day looking depressed and miserable. Mornings have become increasingly difficult too. When you ask your child to share what is troubling them, he or she refuses. After several days, your child releases a floodgate of tears and admits that he or she is being bullied by classmates. They never want to go back to school again…
As a caring and strong parent, you maintain your composure. You want to cry with your child, but at the same time, your parental instincts are ready to unleash fury. Recognizing that neither of these actions will be helpful to the situation, you determine that you need to make a plan.
First, you may reach out to the school and see what they know about the situation. You might even try contacting the parents of the alleged bullies. Unfortunately, both attempts might leave you feeling more frustrated than before. Speaking to an experienced attorney might be your best option. That’s where the attorneys from Fellerman & Ciarimboli come into play.
Pennsylvania Law and School Bullying
In Pennsylvania public schools, bullying is against the rules, especially cyberbullying. This type of bullying is more common in today’s public schools because of the tech-heavy presence at play in classrooms and our children’s lives. Cyberbullying involves the use of electronic communication to intimidate, embarrass, and humiliate others by means of texting, social media, and other online tools.
According to state law, bullying is defined as intentional actions that:
- are directed at other students
- are persistent, pervasive, or severe
- hinder a student’s education, create a threatening environment, or disrupt school operations
- occur on school grounds, in school vehicles, at designated bus stops, and during any school-sanctioned activities
Pennsylvania allows schools to define bullying to include off-campus behavior as well, as long as it meets the other requirements of bullying. Every school district in the state must have a code of conduct that explains the discipline for acts of bullying. These policies must be available on the school’s website and in the classrooms (usually found in the form of student handbooks).
For a school’s policy to apply to cyberbullying, the school setting requirement (the last bullet point) would have to be clear and concise. Since most cyberbullying involves online communication and texting which can happen outside of school walls, the lines between on-campus and off-campus behavior can be blurred. If the school’s policy clearly defines bullying as an act that can happen away from school grounds, punishment for the students causing terror to your child will be enforced.
How Is Bullying Punished?
In Pennsylvania, students involved in serious acts of bullying might find themselves in juvenile court and adult court when they are of age. Bullying can qualify as criminal harassment/cyber-harassment, stalking, or assault. A bully convicted of these criminal offenses will be subject to the following:
- Diversionary program for juveniles
- Time in prison
- All of the above
If bullying has caused someone to commit suicide, the bully might face felony charges for intentionally “soliciting” suicide.
Still Have Questions?
You might still have questions. Who can I file a lawsuit against for economic and financial harm? Can I file a lawsuit against the school? The answers to these can be complicated. That is why you need Fellerman & Ciarimboli on your side.
Our experienced attorneys can provide the answers to these questions and more, along with the legal representation you need to help you recover the damages associated with this traumatic event. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.