Bullying and Harassment: A Legal Guide for Educators

Bullying and Harassment: A Legal Guide for Educators

Bullying and Harassment: A Legal Guide for Educators

Bullying and Harassment: A Legal Guide for Educators

Synopsis

A student creates a Web site that contains fake obituaries of fellow students. The school suspends him. The parents then sue and win in court. Incidents of bullying, harassment, and threats in schools are growing, but the line between students rights to expression and the school's rights to protect children and faculty is increasingly blurred. To create effective disciplinary and management polices, educators need to understand the legal ramifications of their actions. Bullying and Harassment: A Legal Guide for Educators provides the practical information that they need to help students while avoiding litigation pitfalls. In language readily understandable to administrators, teachers, and other school personnel, educator and attorney Kathleen Conn examines the various twists and turns of the legal issues, including
• The distinction between bullying and teasing;
• Civil rights and free speech protection under the U. S. Constitution;
• Legal definitions of harassment based on gender, race, religion, and disabilities;
• Student threats of violence against schools or classmates;
• Internet-enabled forms of bullying and harassment; and
• Appropriate guidelines for both short- and long-term responses. Using recent court cases and school events that made major headlines, Conn examines how educators should respond to incidents where the law isn t clear and where different court interpretations seem to apply. With its timely information and analysis, Bullying and Harassment shows how every educator can take a proactive stand to ensure safe schools and communities.

Excerpt

For many adults, the most vivid memory from their former school days involves a distinctly unpleasant incident or situation, with a bully often at the heart of the memory. Some adults may remember being the victim of a bully. Some may recall feeling forced to stand silently by while a good friend or a weaker colleague was the victim. Still others, a very small number of adults, may reflect with remorse that they were, indeed, the bullies who tormented and terrorized their schoolmates.

Bullying, however, has more far-reaching ramifications than simply contributing to unpleasant childhood memories. Many researchers have documented the association of bullying with other antisocial behaviors. The pioneering research of Dan Olweus in Norway and Sweden in the late 1980s and early 1990s documented that 60 percent of boys identified as bullies in grades 6-9 had at least one criminal conviction by age 24. Of these former middle school bullies, 35-40 percent were convicted of three or more serious crimes by their mid-twenties (Olweus, 1993). After Olweus' initial studies, bullying in schools soon began to receive attention in Japan, England, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and the United States. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2004), a division of the Centers for Disease Control, cites bullying or being bullied as a [risk factor] for youth violence. An April 2003 report published by researchers from the National . . .

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