While hardly far from mind nowadays, the problem of children bullying children received renewed attention when Melania Trump announced she would join the fight against online bullying and harassment as the nation’s next First Lady.
“Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers,” Mrs. Trump said in her announcement. “It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground and it is absolutely unacceptable when it’s done by someone with no name hiding on the internet.”
Bullying, and particularly cyber-bullying, has been on the rise. One study found that 83% of girls and 79% of boys reported being bullied at school or online.
The targets of bullies typically remember what it feels like long after the fact. Bullying takes many forms; isn’t just a physical or verbal attack. It also includes making threats, spreading rumors, or even excluding someone from a group. Persistent bullying and cyberbullying has been increasingly linked to suicide and depression.
None of this, of course, has escaped the attention of educators who are responsible for student safety. Unfortunately, the trend has also unleashed a slew of liability lawsuits brought by parents and students against private and public schools.
Most states have adopted anti-bullying laws in the past few years with which schools must comply. Those laws generally require the adoption of anti-bullying policies. They also require schools to administer such policies consistently and police bullying of all sorts.
In short, bullying today presents a significant risk management issue for schools everywhere.
Worse still, while they might be well-meaning, too many school administrators are not living up to their anti-bullying standards.
Schools that find themselves in court over bullying cases will have to prove they followed their own policies and took reasonable steps to stop bullying and prevent it from happening.
According to stopbullying.gov, a website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are various ways administrators can make schools safer and prevent bullying. Among these best practices:
In making her announcement, Melania Trump said fighting cyber-bullying would be her leading cause as First Lady.
“We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other,” she said. “We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.”
Joaquin Escobar, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-212-2054 or JoaquinE@thinkccig.com.
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