1 in 2 Young People Bullied in 2016: The Legal Position For Schools, Parents And Pupils
- January 2, 2017
- Winston Brown
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Anti-Bullying Week 2016 was held in November, aimed at raising awareness of the level of bullying in our schools. Extensive research from one anti-bullying group has just highlighted the problem: 1.5 million young people were bullied this year – that’s half the young population.
These figures don’t surprise us. As solicitors in South East London we have recently seen a marked increase in enquiries – both from schools and parents – that relate to bullying.
What We Do For Schools
There is now an extensive statutory framework in place in relation to bullying. So schools are under an enormous legal responsibility. Chiefly, the Education and Inspections Act, 2006 requires every school to have measures in place that encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying. Other legislation we must consider when confronting claims of bullying includes:
- The Equality Act, 2010
- The Human Rights Act, 1988
- The Children Act, 1989
We draft behavioural and bullying complaint procedures for schools, and we encourage all of our school clients to ensure their internal policies are regularly updated and consistent. If the school does face legal action on bullying these procedures will be scrutinised carefully. Although bullying is not a criminal offence in itself, certain forms of bullying, including assault or malicious communication will lead to police involvement.
What We Do For Parents
Parents tend to consult us when a pattern of bullying has already been established. Where possible it is important to record incidents of bullying and report these matters to the school in writing.
Our role is to find the most appropriate solution in each case. Often this involves liaising with the school directly on your behalf. We will ensure the institution follows all internal policies and makes a decision on the alleged bullying. If you are unhappy with the outcome we have the expertise to pursue the matter further. This may include:
- Making a formal complaint to the local authority responsible for the school
- Contacting the Local Government Ombudsman
- Pursuing a civil claim for damages in the County Court