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Bakersfield School Bullying Lawyers

Passionate Legal Assistance When Your Child Is Bullied at School

Not long ago, school bullying was viewed by too many school officials as a “natural” process in which kids worked out their interactions, conflicts and identities. Fortunately, that view is now changing and school bullying is being viewed for what it really is: something that no child should ever be subjected to. School bullying is unacceptable and intolerable. If your child is being bullied, contact our Bakersfield school bullying lawyers for help.

School bullying is something that is preventable so long as school officials address it and not choose to ignore it or even refuse to intervene when it occurs.

We here at Rodriguez & Associates believe that everyone has a right to be who they are. When intolerance and discrimination manifest in any form, including school bullying, our attorneys are ready to assist through supportive legal help.

Helping Families Through a High-Profile Stance Against School Bullying

Our Bakersfield school bullying lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates are committed to preventing bullying in our schools. For instance, we represent the family of a 13-year-old boy who was so relentlessly bullied and tormented at school that it drove him to suicide. According to the U.S. Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Justice this boy was called names, pushed, shoved, taunted, food was knocked out of his hands, and other more explicit things. The more shocking thing that was discovered was that even though some of the school officials and staff were aware of these things being done to this boy, they chose not to take steps to prevent it. That boy was Seth Walsh. His mother, Wendy Walsh, is working to make sure that no child is ever bullied and mistreated the way her son was. Through her untiring efforts, and with the help of other concerned people, Seth’s Law was signed into law in October of 2011. This law is the first step in making sure that our kids have a safe environment in which to learn and grow.

Every student in Bakersfield, the Central Valley and in California has the right to attend school safely and to enjoy the supportive and engaged involvement of his or her teachers and other school employees. For more information, please contact our school bullying lawyers.

Signs Your Child is Being Bullied (and What You Can Do About It)

Many people experience some sort of bullying in their lifetime. These situations may be common, but they are by no means harmless. Unfortunately, bullying is not always obvious. It’s important to address bullying situations as soon as possible, before they escalate to traumatic experiences, and it’s vital to recognize the warning signs of bullying as soon as they appear.

Some parents may discover that their child is the one doing the bullying – this is distressing as well and needs to be addressed as soon as possible so the child can learn to be a functional member of society. Bullies often take out personal problems on other students, because they don’t know how to express themselves properly. This is no excuse for bullying, but recognizing the issue is the first step to solving it and helping the child handle his or her emotions.

Warning Signs that Your Child is Being Bullied

Most parents easily recognize shifts in their children’s behaviors. Growing up is difficult, and parents are bound to notice changes as time goes on, but some changes should be red flags that your child may be facing a bully:

  • Unexplained injuries: If you notice bruises or scrapes and your child seems reluctant to tell you how they happened or seems to provide a shaky description of the event, they may be afraid of telling the truth or being a “tattletale.”
  • Lost or damaged possessions: Bullies sometimes destroy their victims’ property, including clothing, electronics, phones, and books. If your child suddenly loses something like this, or you notice something damaged, ask how it happened or how the item was lost.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits: Your children may handle stress by avoiding food or by binge eating. Children who come home from school ravenous may be hungry, because they were bullied for their lunch money or were too intimidated to eat.
  • Isolation: Every child is different and many enjoy alone time, but if you notice your child suddenly disinterested in social activities or actively avoiding being around others, consider it a warning sign.
  • Declining school performance: Bullying takes a toll on victims. Bullied children have difficulty focusing on schoolwork if they’re dealing with bullies every day. A sudden drop in your child’s grades could be a sign of distress.
  • Health issues: Your child may suddenly feel ill all the time or fake being sick to avoid going to school. Bullying takes an emotional toll, so make sure to pay attention to anything your child says that indicates lowered self-esteem.
  • Destructive behavior: Children being bullied may start snapping in anger at seemingly little things, or they may try to harm themselves. Self-destructive and aggressive behavior is serious.

Signs that Your Child is a Bully

Unfortunately, bullying often stems from a need to impress others or to prove superiority. If you notice any of the following behaviors in your child, it may be a sign he or she is bullying others:

  • Disciplinary issues at school: If teachers send your child to the principal’s office or detention frequently, that may only be part of the problem.
  • Excessive competitiveness: Your child may seem overly preoccupied with popularity or winning, and this may manifest in trying to overpower others.
  • Aggression: If your child angers easily or frequently engages in altercations (verbal or physical), he or she may also be taking this aggression out on other kids.
  • Avoiding responsibility: Your child may blame others or refuse to accept responsibility for actions. Consider such behavior a red flag.

How to Handle the Situation

When people bully children, it may be very difficult for them to talk about it. Bullying can be scary and humiliating, and your child may be too frightened or embarrassed to speak about the problem. If the school faculty is aware of the problem, meeting with teachers and counselors may be a good way to get them to open up about the issue. It’s also important to encourage your child to think of ways to resolve the problem.

However, if the bullying goes beyond verbal teasing and nonviolent abuse, and your child receives threats of violence or a bully harms him or her physically, then it’s time to involve the police. Schools take threats of violence very seriously in light of the many tragedies that have affected our nation’s youths in recent years. If your child is threatened, you should speak to the police.

If you think your child’s school failed in its duty to provide a safe environment or if bullying escalates to the point where it harms your child physically, contact a school bullying attorney in your area for a consultation.

Was Your Child Bullied at School? We Protect Student Civil Rights

Rodriguez & Associates is conveniently located in downtown Bakersfield, in the oldest free-standing brick building in the county. Our Bakersfield injury attorneys are available for weekend and evening appointments, charge no fee for consultations and speak both English and Spanish. To contact us, please call 661-323-1400 or 800-585-9262 Toll Free to schedule a free consultation with one of our Bakersfield school bullying attorneys today.

How to Protect Kids From Cyberbullying

The internet now affects nearly every aspect of daily life. Although this service typically makes things easier, it’s not without its drawbacks. This is especially true when it comes to our children, who are vulnerable to countless hazards when they go online. Simply chatting online can expose your children to danger.

Identifying and Preventing Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is an especially pervasive problem, given the nature of anonymity online. If your child is just learning about social exchanges or interacting with other people over the internet, the destructive people online may catch him or her off guard. These people will say anything and everything possible to get a reaction. For kids, this can be a particularly upsetting experience.

Cyberbullying may be even more personal than that. Children who have social media accounts where people can find them may find themselves mocked for sharing a photo, writing a tweet, or posting a video. Though you can go out of your way to avoid unpleasant interactions in the real world, everyone is exposed to such assaults when they interact with others online.

Supporting Your Kids After a Cyberbully Attack

If your child is harassed or encounters any kind of aggression online, here are a few tips to help him or her recover and potentially move forward with litigation:

  • No matter what, make sure your kids know that it’s not their fault. It’s human nature to feel responsible when we experience unpleasant or embarrassing situations. Your children may feel guilty about what happened – remind them that being bullied isn’t their fault, and that they did the right thing sharing the event with you.
  • Advise your children not to respond or retaliate. Replying may be the worst action possible, especially if you’re dealing with a person who just wants to cause trouble. Don’t reply, but don’t remove the conversation or post just yet.
  • Collect evidence. If the bullying is especially persistent or egregious, you may have legal options at your disposal. However, you’ll need proof before you approach a school (if you’re dealing with classmates) or speak to an authority. Record conversations, save videos, and otherwise document the situation as fully as possible.

Following these steps will put you on the right path, but there’s more work to do. Review the following tips to put an end to the cyberbullying.

Solving the Problem

First, you may need to address the person(s) causing the problem – if the person is someone you know. For example, if someone who lives down the street is bullying your child, you might approach the bully’s parents and let them know what’s going on. This could solve the problem peacefully. Second, your school likely has resources available to deal with cyberbullying. Reach out to teachers, administrators, and principals for help. The same is likely true for other areas in the community; for example, your local library may have a support group or additional resources and information at your disposal.

Finally, consider more actively managing social media accounts and internet usage in your house. For example, you may need to set guidelines for posting on forums, limit social media usage, and monitor internet activity.

Options for Litigation

You may consider available legal options because of extreme bullying or when schools fail to keep their students safe. For example, there is precedence for cyberbullying litigation when it is persistent or dangerous, leads to suicide, or contributes to any other personal injury or property damage. Schedule a consultation and review your case with an experienced personal injury attorney for more information about this process. For help with cyberbullying laws and your rights, contact Rodriguez & Associates.

School Bullying and School Shootings

School bullying comes in many forms and has been named as a factor in some of the most tragic events in American history. School shootings continue to devastate and perplex us and sadly, California is no stranger to this sort of catastrophe. In fact, California has the highest number of school shootings in the country.

School Shootings in California

School shootings have become a sadly common occurrence in the United States, with the first reported incident in the 18th century. California and Florida are the two states with the highest number of incidents to date, at 16 and 14. These events are devastating for the victims involved, and they leave many wondering about the kind of person who could commit such an act. As new legislation regarding gun law passes and we learn more about social and mental wellbeing, we will hopefully see a sharp decline in these activities.

A Breakdown of California School Shootings

School shootings either target a specific individual, inflict the highest damage possible on a vulnerable group of people, or simply occur in a moment of extreme anger. For example, in 1867, a parent killed a teacher after the teacher expelled his son from the school. More recently (June 1, 2016), someone shot a professor and student at UCLA. Other school shootings in California include:

  • Taft, 2013. At Taft Union High School, a 16-year-old student entered and assaulted a classroom. He injured two people, but the teacher was able to convince the young man to stop his attack. Authorities arrested the student, and he is now serving a 27.3-year sentence. The shooter alleged that the shooting was due to bullying at school.
  • Santa Monica, 2013. What began as a home shooting turned into a killing spree when the perpetrator hijacked a car and forced the driver to take him to Santa Monica College. There, he used a semi-automatic rifle and targeted nearby students, passersby, cars and buses, and school staff. Six people died and four were injured.
  • Fresno, 2013. In what authorities think was a gang initiation, an athletic trainer was shot multiple times in the leg and stomach, but he did survive.
  • Los Angeles, 2014. One victim was shot on the Los Angeles Valley College campus.
  • Los Angeles, 2014. In a drive-by shooting (possibly related to gang activity), one victim was injured on the University of Southern California’s grounds.
  • Richmond, 2014. Another drive-by shooting outside John F. Kennedy High School severely injured one student; however, the victim did survive.
  • Merced, 2015. One teenager was shot and killed after school hours on the grounds of a local middle school.
  • Sacramento, 2015. A fatal shooting followed an argument that broke out on Sacramento City College’s parking lot. One person died, and two others were injured.

What Legal Options Do Victims and Their Families Have in These Situations?

Schools must take every reasonable action possible to protect their students from an active shooter. If, for example, someone threatens to come back and attack the school and the institute does nothing to protect its students, the courts may hold administrators responsible for any subsequent damages, including wrongful death. The state will bring criminal charges against an assailant or assailants when they are caught and detained.

However, these situations are massively complicated, because of how devastating the damage typically is. The high-profile situations that gain federal attention, for example, will likely be in court for a long time. When this happens, families need to partner with the right law firms to ensure their rights are protected and they are adequately compensated for their damages. That means looking for a team that has experience handling these types of cases and can articulately represent you and your family.

Rodriguez & Associates represented victim Bowe Cleveland in the Taft Union High School shooting. We have first-hand experience with the subsequent litigation that follows these cases, and we’re always standing by to offer our expertise regarding any personal injury. For more information about your legal rights in these situations, reach out to our team today.