What legal action can parents take against someone who is bullying their child at school?

UPDATED: Mar 21, 2011

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What legal action can parents take against someone who is bullying their child at school?

My daughter is being bullied at school.  She is tired of it. We have already taken her to a counselor because of suicidal thoughts.  We did get a bully restraining order on the other student, a girl, but it didn’t help. We tried to contact the superintendent of schools and did talk to the principal. Our family doctor told us to take her out of the school or find another one. That means we have to move somewhere new. Counselor/doctor of psychology told us to keep her out so that she could de-stress. There have been 4 attempted suicides in high school just this year because of bullying. We don’t want our daughter to be one of those. What do you suggest? Should we get a personal injury lawyer? In Eastland, TX. 

Asked on March 21, 2011 under Personal Injury, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can consult with a personal injury attorney, but be prepared that there may be very little the attorney can do for you. Even with all the attention paid to bullying, the courts are not really set up to deal with the issue--the only provide compensation for demonstrable injury with a clear causal link to a person's wrongful behavior, and it's difficult to prove that (or to prove that there's enough injury to make it worthwhile) in a bullying case (especially since there's still a pervasive sense that this is just part of childhood); and also, the courts are loathe to order a school to take specific actions.

Your best bet may be to try to exert "political" pressure on your school district to act, by contacting local elected officials, speaking up at board of ed meetings, possibly talking to the media (caution: always be circumspect in what you say, since you want to avoid any claim of defamation against you).

Again, this is not to say that you can't speak to an attorney or shouldn't; but I'm not aware of lawyers being particularly efficacious in cases like this, unless the bullying is linked to some protected cateogy (e.g. bullying a child on account of race, disability, etc.), which provides additional leverage for the law.

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