Bullying In Depth

Bullying: In Depth

All McGrath Bullying programs address the issue from two perspectives:

  • The Human Dynamics involved and
  • Legal Liability.

We look at bullying from the point of view of victims, bullies and bystanders. How are each affected? What are the signs? How do we create a school environment in which it is safe to “tell”? How do we detect bullying that goes unreported? How do we locate and protect other victims of the same perpetrator? What about confidentiality issues? What are the legal issues involved? Who may be liable and what is our best protection? What if a criminal law has been broken? How do we analyze each situation to arrive at a legally fit and educationally sound remedy?

McGrath also takes a 360-degree approach, providing training for everyone in the school community. Our goal is to create an environment of safety where students report incidents, teachers and staff are trained to detect and intervene in bullying behavior, administrators are fully trained in legally-fit and educationally sound complaint intake and investigation procedures, and incidents are handled promptly and effectively.

When students know that they will receive prompt, effective, and appropriate action, they are more likely to report unwanted behavior. With McGrath Training, the number of incidents reported by students and staff is likely to increase. This is actually good news! With McGrath 360-degree training in place, early intervention is possible. Students will get the message that you are not tolerating misconduct, and the severity of reported incidents is likely to decrease over time

Bullying: A Safety Issue
We define bullying as repeated and systematic abuse and harassment of another. Bullying and ridiculing conduct includes name calling, mimicking, indifference and exclusion, invasions of personal space, inappropriate touching, physical violence (hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving), gender and sex based bullying, and extortion.

What distinguishes bullying from horseplay is the intent to harm Usually, power is distributed unequally between the victim and the perpetrator(s). A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 10,000 children stayed home from school at least once a month because they feared bullies. Half the children surveyed said they were bullied once a week.

Bullying: A Legal Issue
Liability for bullying is becoming an increasingly worrisome issue for school districts across the United States. Parents are holding school districts civilly responsible for investigating and intervening in incidents of bullying. And the courts are backing them up, holding both schools districts and individual employees liable for failing to stop the bullying through education, intervention and investigation. Bullying which takes the form of assault or battery is prohibited by state criminal law. Schools must have a policy that outlines detecting and investigating incidents, rumors and complaints and for remedying each situation. Educators and staff must be trained to identify the warning signs that bullying is taking place. Site administrators, counselors and others who receive complaints from students, parents and staff must know exactly how to proceed if the district is to protect students from harm and to protect itself from liability.


Links to Bullying Articles on our site:

Human Suffering and Jury Awards: The High Cost of Bullying and Liability in Schools

FOCUS: SCHOOL SAFETY: Capping the Heavy Price for Bullying, Reprinted from The School Administrator

Altering The Culture of Cruelty: Impacting Student Bullying, Ridicule and Harassment

The Early Faces of Violence: From Schoolyard Bullying and Ridicule to Sexual Harassment — An interview with program author and producer Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law

TRIAL Magazine article: NEWS & TRENDS: The Bully Pulpit: Post-Columbine, Harassment Victims Take School To Court.