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sdw204
sdw204 asks:
Q:

My son was physically assaulted.  Should I let the school handle it or make an example and prosecute?

My son has been verbally harrassed by a small group of boys for the last 4 years.  This week it got physical. My son was jumped from behind and yanked to the ground by his backpack and drug around on the ground.  The school was notified as well as our local law inforcement.  I have the option of letting the school handle it. (ex: suspension)  Or I can file assault charges and have them prosecuted.  My son wants to let the school handle it, this time.  The one boy did get suspended and has to pay for the backpack, but it that enough?  Is it going to be an eye-opener for this boy to think before he bullys again or is it just a 5 day weekend from school? Do I make an example of these boys and prosecute? Or do I wait and prosecute the next time when they decide to do something worse?  
In Topics: Bullying and teasing
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Jun 12, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

It's heartbreaking to hear that your son is being physically bullied and hurt at school.  I'm glad that you talked to the school and law enforcement about it.  We cannot tell you whether to press charges or not.  That's a personal and family decision that you need to make based on the best interest of your child.  Provided is a link to another education.com answer that might be helpful to you.

http://www.education.com/question/3rd-grader-bullied-months-school/

Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000
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Additional Answers (21)

Wayne Yankus
Wayne Yankus writes:
Great question and you have thought this one out carefully.  As a pediatrician and school physician my thoughts would be to first meet with the principal of the school. Is it a zero tolerance policy?  Were these kids his peers or older students?  Does the school have a coordinating police officer?  Many school systems have a resource officer who could advise you what would happen if you filed charges.  What would the consequences be to your son if you did file when they return to school?  How will the school protect his safety?  Do you know your community?  I would also suggest having a meeting with the parents of the offenders--all the boys present.  Demonstrate a logical adult way to handle this behavior. IF the latter is not a good choice for you and your son check out our website's special edition on bullying for other suggestions. Four years is a long time for your son to be worried about this gang.

> 60 days ago

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soyamie5
soyamie5 writes:
Bullying kids are always a problem and when tolerated they become a terror and a traumatic experience. Maybe it's good first to check whether this offender's size has really a big difference with that of your son making your son really that scared. This has happened to me during my Elementary grade when I almost stopped schooling because of this bully.  I was so scared with this bully who was twice my size.
 
This was my strategy. I talked to my Dad and he suggested I should fight this bully with a few friends on stand by ready to stop the action as I'm about to tangle with the bully. With that I won't really get hurt. He told me that I should fight this bully once and for all. He said... that there are times that I really have to stand up and fight for myself especially if I think I'm right. This strategy worked and the bully has stopped picking on me again. I planned and did that exactly one day. I gathered courage and in fact was able to hurt this bully before he was able to recover.  He was shocked as he didn't expect I would put up a fight.  After a few seconds tussle with him my two friends jumped in and separated us.  In short we got the teacher's attention and finally ended up in the principal's office. His parents were called the next day. That solved my problem. I din't know why he has stopped pestering me... was it because of the teacher and the principal's warning him plus his parents pressure?.  Maybe all of these or maybe he knew I'll fight back once provoked.
> 60 days ago

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concerned1
concerned1 writes:
My Daughter was also being bullied from another little girl. The little girl was also bullying other little girls who were terrified of her..  My Daughter loves School, and is also in the Gifted Class., And Chorus. She involves herself in School on her own free will. We do not force her. I called the Teacher and asked for a parent, Teacher meeeting, and all she could give me was, a Telephone Meeting. What a joke. When i told the Teacher what had happened she said she would talk to  both of the student's. Her reply to me was. The other little girl said she was only playing. She did not send the bully to the Principle. The next couple of days , she was still bullying her.  She shoved her off the Balance beam. Thank God the balance beam was very low. But this time i had giving my Daughter permission to stick up for herself, and she did. This time I went to the Guidance Councelor. She also did nothing, was rude to me, and said I will handle this. She never did.  A few weeks later my Daughter once again woke up for School crying not to go. I told her to get on the Bus and Go. I told her i was going to Change my clothes and that her Father and I would be there in no time.  This time i asked for the principle. She came up front, and we set up a time for the next Morning to meet.  The Principle, The Teacher, And us Parent's.  It seems that the Principle was never notified of any thing that was going on in this classroom, or with this other little girl. We found out her Mother is a Teacher in JR. High. And My Daughters teacher and her were friends, and so was the Guideance Councelor. The reason for the meeting was, because my Husband And I demanded, our Daughter be put into another class room. The Principle was very concerened that she was not notified of this. No student is allowed to put their hands on another child. They are also not allowed to touch their property. This kid took my Daughter's lunch box, beat it against something, because both thermos had been bent, and broke. Milk was all over the place, her snack was jello, which was also all over the place. My Daughter tried to get it back from her but, she found another little girl to play Monkey in the middle with the lunch box. I had to buy all new stuff for her lunch.  But yet the child never got in trouble. My Daughter is being taught by me now on how to stand up for herself. I didn't want to have to do this, but reading your post and seeing how many years, they have kept doing this to him, is what i am afraid of.  If she doesn't learn now, the bullys will always go after her through the years. I explained this to her very clearly. Because she is quiet, smart, senstive, and very loving. They sure as heck don't go after the ones that will put them in their place in a second flat.  We had a very good meeting, especially when the Principle asked the Teacher What Kind of Student my Daughter was. She Only could reply with good things. When she asked what her Grades were, the Teacher replied (A) Honor Roll. Which she has been since she started First grade. I Stopped and asked for my Daughter to be included in our meeting. They sent someone to go and get her. I wanted my Daughter to know that we were there, and know that i would always be there for her needs. The Principle asked my Daughter some Questions, trying to use reverse Phsycology, but my Daughter was to quick at answering the questions, and answering them honestly. The Principle asked for all of us to Please think about giving this Teacher another chance. I asked my Daughter if she would like too, or would she like to be put in another class. Or Option 2, I told her i would gladly pull her out of School completely, and Home School her.  Which Shocked everyone.  My Daughter being as Sweet as can be replied. No MaMa, I think i will give her Another Chance. This has been 3 weeks now, Which by the way, She made the (A) Honor Roll even with all this going on, and is heading there again. I gave the Teacher another Chance. I ask my Daughter on a daily basis, How are you and your Teacher getting along?, and how is she treating you? She tells me that they get along very well now. If it was my Son Going through this, after one year or less. Sorry but he would be in Karate Classes. Teachers are not the same as when i was in School. If you did one thing wrong, to the Principle you went. Suspension, or Paddle, which one does your paren't want you to have. Have them sign this letter and return it to me before School starts. If you don't return it, you get paddled. MY how times have changed. My Daughter now has this, little wanna be bully with her mouth shut. She doesn't even talk to her.
> 60 days ago

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mehaul
mehaul writes:
I would talk to the school officials principal or whoever and ask them how you can help them put an end to this bullying. Continue to ask your child and school officials. Keep talking to the principal or school officials so they know to stay on top of it. Teach your kid safety measures.
> 60 days ago

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SMPTUE
SMPTUE writes:
I agree with the gentleman who said it is a personal family decision for you and your family.  We shouldn't make your decisions for you, however, if you are looking for third party opinions, I'll gladly give mine.

I applaud you for allowing your son to be part of this decision process.  As much as we want to go after the kids who hurt our kids, we have to remember that we don't always know the whole story or the other possible fears our children have in the situation.  Most importantly, however, sitting down and talking with your son about how he would like to handle it puts him back in charge of a situation where his voice was violently stripped away.  Kudos to you for helping him get that back!

I think letting the school handle it for now is a good choice.  If it happens again, I suggest you prosecute to the fullest extent the law in your area allows.  You can't know if your son's decision will wake them up or if you'll need further action until you give this option a chance first.  If they take this chance for granted and strike again, they don't deserve a third.

I'm not sure how your local law enforcement handles complaints, but it has been my experience that a victim is allowed to open a police file on someone without actually pressing charges.  This way, it will serve as documentation of prior criminal behavior but serves to also go the less confrontational route, which can sometimes exacerbate an already volatile situation.  

The legal system is swamped and when victims of lesser crimes agree to give the simpler solutions a chance to work first, the grateful system will do what it can to be there for the victim if the behavior happens again. Put a good-faith foot forward and you become the bigger person and will hold more weight with law enforcement down the line.

Now, this opinion is only from the information you provided.  There are many other factors that could be present.  Do these boys do these things to many other kids?  Were any of them at any time your son's friend?  Is this revenge for something he did or is he being targeted for a particular reason?  I'm not at all saying they had a right to do what they did.  Absolutely not!  I'm just reminding you that any opinion we give you is limited to what you have told us.  So keep that in mind.  
  
Again, good for you for letting your son have his say and putting the control back into his hands that they took from him.  I hope things get better.  Sounds like a harsh 4 years for him.  Hopefully, it will start to turn around.
> 60 days ago

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Louiseasl
Louiseasl , Child Professional writes:
I agree with the expert above and suggest that you avail yourself of the websites and phone numbers provided.

In addition, I would want to ensure that your son is kept safe and not made again a victim.  I am  not sure what the school can do to provide this assistance.  However, you may also want to figure out why he is the target for being a bullied and if he is not the only one.  Please keep in mind that if your son is being bullied it is possible that another one of his friends or classmates also in harms way.

Regardless your son will need much support at this time from yourself and professionals.  Please allow him the opportunity to those who can help.
> 60 days ago

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CreativeRachna
CreativeRac... , Child Professional, Teacher writes:
I'm sorry to hear that you and your son have been involved in such a traumatic incident.  I'm including a link to another just ask question where a mom was in your situation, and the answers provided to her.  
http://www.education.com/question/mother-legally-bullying-situation/

I hope this helps.  Making a legal decision is never an easy one.  I wish you the best of luck,
Rachna
> 60 days ago

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ArmyMomAnita
ArmyMomAnita writes:
Several years ago, while my now 34 year old daughter was in middle school, she too was assaulted. Several 8th grade girls had been harassing her and told her that they planned to beat her up after school the next day. She called me and I called the school principle. The principle called the girls in question into his office and gave them a stern warning of what would happen if they did beat up my daughter. The next day my daughter called me crying, the girls could not beat her up, so they had a boy do it. He punched her several times and kicked the spokes out of her bicycle. I called the school principle and told him what happened. I then went home and took my daughter down to the local police department to file a complaint. The police in turn got together with the school principle, the kids and the kid's parents. I think the police officer let them know just how severe their punishment could be if a parent chose to prosecute.
> 60 days ago

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chattypatty
chattypatty writes:
I think you should file assault charges because the school has not taken care of this matter are it wouldn't have went this far!  I think our kids should be able to go to school and feel safe, and the schools are not doing enought to make sure that our kids are safe.  And the parents of these bullers need to be responsable also.  Good luck
> 60 days ago

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cecedolphin
cecedolphin writes:
With my experiences, the schools do absolutely nothing. You need to set an example and prosecute these kids. Hold them and their parents responsible for their actions.  I am tired of this going on in these schools. Maybe if more people were held responsible, people would stop this behavior.  Was this done on school grounds?
> 60 days ago

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footballjijm81
footballjij... writes:
im speaking from personal experince i was bullied and punched the kid in the face.... I was sticking up for mylsef physicaly but i was never phyiscaly assaulated.... But the issue i have is this i just recived 5 days oss but while the kid that bullied has the right to try me as an adult and got in no trouble w/ the highschool at all..... Personaly the bully will not listen unless your son counter attacks the next time it is done it worked for me.... Ik this isnt the best idea but your son will gain respect and if he does attack the kid dont be ashamed of him be proud that he was able to stick up and fight back
> 60 days ago

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Nizzey87
Nizzey87 writes:
It is not about making an example. It is about doing what is right. Schools sometimes try to cover it up and not do much to protect the schools reputation. It is your child you are talking about DO NOT relie on someone else getting justice for your child. No one cares for your child as much as you do. You should press charges.
> 60 days ago

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concernedmomof2
concernedmo... writes:
I realize this is an older post but recently my son was physically assaulted at school. Being a parent in your situation,I would let the school do what they need to do but would also get the police involved. No person on this earth has a right to put their hands on another person. These kids need to learn that when you hurt others here is what will happen. My son was raised that you never hit someone and he didn't fight back. He let the teachers do what needed to be done. The child that attacked my son (who by the way just jumped up and attacked him as he was going to the front of the class) got a weeks out of school suspension. HIS parents want to file bully charges against my son. Forget about the fact that both of the teachers who witnessed this said my son has never spoken to this child  or did anything but walk to the front of the class. Parents are the problem here. I refuse to allow some kid who obviously has some issues think he can use my child as a punching bag. I demanded that this child be kept far away from my son at all times. I also said this child is unstable at best and shouldn't be around the other students or teachers. Bullying shouldn't be tolerated at all! Time parents start getting more involved in their childrens lives and end this. I'm so sorry your child or anyones child was being bullied. Even if you decide to not prosecute them for this, atleast you will have it on record for the next time. Unfortunately, there will be a next time. In my son's case, I took him to the police station and filed charges. The officer i spoke with said more then likely this child has been in trouble before and we did the right thing. It didn't take the cut above his eye away or the bruise on his cheek but i hope it sends the message this won't be tolerated.
> 60 days ago

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mom24kids
mom24kids writes:
My daughter was assaulted by another student in her high school. She was stabbed with a pen. She is also bullied daily. As a result of the bullying, she was afraid to say in front of the class that the student stabbed her on purpose. She told the teacher it was an accident. I totally understand and wish children would think about the feelings of each other. This bullying madness really needs to stop!
> 60 days ago

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CarolThompson-Sampson
CarolThomps... writes:
For 4 years is just too long time to prosecute!
No because the next time it may be too late to help your son.
I worked in public schools for over 17 years.
> 60 days ago

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Grant_M1030
Grant_M1030 writes:
File charges --the school's discipline will only be enough to make the bullies angrier and possibly go farther the next time.
These people need real disciplinary action. I'm betting the parents are just as bad or simply using the "my kid just needs time to grow up" response. I've been there. Many bullies are enabled and in fact even coached by their parents.
> 60 days ago

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raebald
raebald writes:
Yes you should pursue it with the police. Last year my son was assulted by another student who broke his nose and he had to have surgery, I let the school handle it and all the student got was 5 days of supension, weeks later the same student assulted my son again and the school did'nt do anything about it , so this time I pressed charges. The officer told me I should of pressed charges the first time and because I waited for a second time they could'nt hold the student accountable for the first act. Now a year later, same school my son was assulted by another student, this time i didnt wait, I am pursuing it with the police as a crimanal act. If we don't stand up for our children who is, so im pressing forward to let the law take care of those who don't follow it.
> 60 days ago

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jbrooks6682
jbrooks6682 writes:
4years!! That is terrible. my son has been bullied going on 3days. Im trying to let the school handle it but im losing my cool. it nothing happens im going to the police.
> 60 days ago

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genermcmillan
genermcmillan writes:
Please discuss the problem with the school principal and make good conditions ....
> 60 days ago

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katejgordon
katejgordon writes:
It is too late for me to suggest what you should do now but it sounds like these kids are not going to give up. Errol your son in self defense classes and when he is ready encourage him to tackle the ring leader when he is provoked. This should make the group of boys move on and find an easier target. Your son will gain respect from his peers and be proud of himself. Leaving it to the school usually does not work. The parents of the offenders usually don`t care what their kids do. Find an ally for your son who is preferably older or has social standing to help your son in school.
> 60 days ago

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