When Severe Bullying Calls for Back Up From Law Enforcement

When to Call Law Enforcement in Severe Bullying Cases in School

An overwhelming amount of children are victimized each year by bullies in and out of the classroom. This problem has become so apparent in America’s schools that some state legislatures have enacted laws against bullying. Though these laws do not entirely criminalize all forms of bullying, it is the acts of some bullies which can trigger the need for law enforcement to play a role.

It is imperative for parents, teachers, and administrators to become familiar with their school policy on bullying. Each school system may have different steps or methods to dealing with bullying, but in order for the school to react to bullying they need to know how to handle low level and severe forms of bullying. If a child is in immediate physical danger then it is absolutely necessary to alert the police. Being a bully is not a crime itself, but there are several crimes a bully can be involved with that are, including assault, sexual harassment, Theft and hate crimes. It is important for parents to understand that notifying school authorities is their first line of defense. Parents need to work in conjunction with school officials in order to provide a safe environment for all children.

Sometimes parents, teachers, and administrators of victimized children do not know when to call the police. There are some distinct cases in which law enforcement agencies need to be informed. They should be called when school authorities have been negligent in the prevention of severe bullying incidents. When bullies use physical harm on their victims, this can be a form of Assault (Intent to cause violence, shoving, pushing,) and Battery (physically harming and individual). Assault and Battery can lead to hospitalization or even death to a child that has been victimized. When a target of bullying is assaulted or physically harmed, police should be notified immediately.

In addition to Assault and Battery, Hate crimes, which is defined by congress as an offense “in which the defendant’s conduct motivated by hatred bias, or prejudice, based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation of another individual or group of individual or group of individuals” can occur in or out of school (H.R. 4797, 102d Cong 2nd Session, 1992).

Another crime is Theft. An example of this crime is the theft of bikes, phones, video games, or money. Sexual Harassment & Battery are also serious crimes. In extreme cases of bullying, sexual offense occur, law enforcement and school officials should be notified immediately. Cyber-bullying is a fairly new form of bullying to parents. Though there is no federal laws against cyber-buying yet, cities ordinances in a few states ruled cyber-bullying as a misdemeanor. Much like harassment laws, it is however illegal to threaten to harm an individual via the internet (USC Title 18§ 875(c).

Contacting law enforcement should be priority when there is imminent danger, loss of property, or when parents or school administrations have exhausted means to correct bullying behavior. It is important for individuals to recognize that everyone can be affected by bullying, even the bully themselves.

According to a study on bullies and criminal behavior, 55% of individuals who claim to be bullies received a conviction of a crime before they reached the age of 24 (Olweus, D. 2011). If bullies can be corrected at an early age, it can be possible to reduce conviction rates for bullies as well. The restorative perspective in criminal justice is a sentencing technique used by the court system in hope to prevent future offenses. The offender or bully is made aware of how he affected the victim and the community. The court system with the school administration can develop a punishment that can restore the community (usually through service work) and help negate the bullying behavior.

Olweus, D. (2011), Bullying at school and later criminality: Findings from three Swedish community samples of males. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 21: 151-156. doi: 10.1002/cbm.806

By Alan J. Stevenson, Veteran, Criminal Justice/Information Security and Assurance Student

Oct 4 2011 in Whats New admin Comments Off on When Severe Bullying Calls for Back Up From Law Enforcement

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