How to stop bullying (and dodge a lawsuit)

GavelYou can be sued personally for money damages if you witness instances of bullying and harassment and fail to act.

So says Michael D. Simpson, General Counsel to the National Education Association, in an essay recently published on NEA’s website.

Simpson explains that school employees have been named as defendants in an increasing number of bullying-related lawsuits: “NEA members in seven states (Washington, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alabama, and Michigan) have recently been sued for allegedly failing to act when they were aware of instances of bullying and harassment.”

So what can you do to stop bullying and avoid a lawsuit? Simpson explains:

  • Make sure your school district has a strong anti-bullying and harassment policy in place, with clear guidance on how and to whom instances of bullying or harassment are to be reported.
  • Insist that your school district educate students about peer harassment.
  • Ask your school district to provide in-service training [like ours] for teachers, education support professionals and other employees about how to spot bullying, how to respond, and to whom to report it, usually the Title IX co-coordinator.
  • Even if the student doesn’t want you to report the incident(s) to the administration, you still have a legal obligation to do so. And always put it in writing and keep a copy.
  • If you witness a bullying incident, intervene immediately. Tell the harasser that his or her behavior is not acceptable.
  • Finally, model good behavior. Remember, you are a role model to your students.

Click here or call 800-711-2670 to find out how CHARACTER COUNTS! can help you change your school climate and put an end to bullying behaviors.