According to the Illinois Legal Aid Online (2018) Bullying can be understood as the aggressive and unwanted traits espoused by school going children. The traits entail some perceived or real power imbalance. Some of the students will use this power (such as their physical strength, popularity, access to privileged information) to harm, blackmail or harm other students. This behavior has to be repeated or have the potential of being repeated for it to qualify as bullying (Illinois Legal Aid Online, 2018). This paper explores a bullying scenario and maps out a strategy to alleviate bullying among students. In doing so the paper quotes three cases (i.e. Goss v. Lopez, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, and New Jersey v. T.L.O). The rulings in these cases will be used to delineate the process of investigation, disciplining of bullies and bullying prevention measures. The paper also gives recommendations on how to handle bullying cases based on the law and school discipline.
Goss v. Lopez
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
New Jersey v. T.L.O
The bullying action has the characteristic of; causing another student to have the fear of being harmed personally or getting the belongings damaged, mental or physical harm, negative impact on the victim’s class participation and grades, and negative impact on the student’s ability or willingness to participate actively at school. Bullying can include threats, harassment, stalking, slander, intimidation, theft, physical violence, property destruction, public humiliation (This is what happened to Danielle in the stated scenario), sexual violence or harassment etc.
The place, the manner and the time the actions are executed are important aspects that will determine if the action qualifies as bullying. Schools in Illinois have to take immediate action if a bullying situation occurs in one or several of these circumstances.
· During an activity or educational program that is sponsored by the school
· Within the premises of the school, on school vehicle, school bus, at a bus stop that is designated for the school bus to stop as the students wait to be picked up, or at activities or events that have been sanctioned by the school
· Through dissemination of information from an electronic device or computer that does not belong to the school but whose impact causes substantial school disruptions
· Through dissemination of information from an electronic device or computer, network belonging to the school (Illinois Legal Aid Online, 2018)
Schools have to prevent bullying immediately because it makes the culture and climate of the school unsafe and violent. Harassment derails the focus of students from learning as well. Through bullying the victimized students can suffer emotional and mental health problems that will negatively impact on the academic performance. Some of the steps that schools must institute in the interest of alleviating bullying include: establishing and enforcing rules against bullying, Ensuring that guardians and students are aware of the rules against bullying, having assigned school staff to handle bullying cases, providing parents and students with contact information to which they should report bullying, forwarding the school’s bullying policy to the education board, and updating the rules against bullying after 2 years.
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The updated rules should be published on the school website (Illinois Legal Aid Online, 2018).
In the three cases cited herein (Goss v. Lopez, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, and New Jersey v. T.L.O), we see that an extensive use and reliance of school discipline-related laws and regulations were used as the foundation for any policies adopted in reference to bullying within schools. The three cases presented rulings on bullying under the organizational framework as determined by the National Center for Safe and Secure Learning Environments (NCSSLE), which allowed these cases to have a unique blend of the specific disciplinary category being highlighted, i.e bullying, along with all of the related laws and regulations that deal with the disciplinary category. The three cases highlighted herein all deal with different extents of bullying actions that took place; hence giving a complete spectrum and range of ways that disciplinary action can be taken, under what circumstances as well as to what extent. This allows us to truly understand the entire process of bullying behavior, how it can be investigated and analysed, how bullies can be effectively disciplined and reprimanded as well as how bullying behaviors can be further prevented.
3. What process will you use to investigate this situation?
In Illinois the education board is responsible for supervising every school district in order to ensure that they comply with all parameters required to alleviate instances of bullying. The parameters include bullying prevention, educating learners about bullying, training of staff members about the prevention of bullying, and the adoption of evidence based curricula and programs (stopbullying.gov, n.d). In order to prevent or stop cases of bullying every school district is required take several actions including investigating the bullying report in the space of not more than 10 days, notifying the students or guardians whose children are involved in the bullying incident(s) (Illinois Legal Aid Online, 2018). In the past schools used to use expulsions and suspensions to deal with bullies but this does not address the issue as will be discussed in the Goss v. Lopez case. New approaches are being employed including utilizing the counseling and social work services at school, building emotional skills in the students, utilizing the psychological services at school, employing restorative measures or employing the services available in the community (Illinois Legal Aid Online, 2018).
According to the Illinois Department of Education (2018) every school district must implement the bullying policy. The policy has to be filed with the education board. This policy must entail the investigation procedures aimed at determining whether the bullying act is covered by the school district’s scope or jurisdiction. The school has to provide the bullying victim with adequate information concerning the available services within the community and school district such as support services and counseling services. The school personnel charged with bullying shall report….....
Department of Education (2018). Illinois compilation of school discipline laws and regulations, Illinois School Discipline Laws and Regulations. Retrieved, 10 November, 2018, from https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/sites/default/files/discipline- compendium/Illinois%20School%20Discipline%20Laws%20and%20Regulations.pdf
Ellis, C.D., (2018). Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved, 10 November, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tinker-v-Des-Moines-Independent-Community- School-District
Illinois Legal Aid Online (2018). Preventing bullying at school, ILAO. Retrieved 10 November, 2018 from https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/preventing-bullying-school
New Jersey v. T.L.O. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1983/83-712
Schimmel, D., (2018). Goss v. Lopez. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved, 10 November, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Goss-v-Lopez
stopbullying.gov (n.d). Facts about Bullying, A federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 2020. Retrieved, 10 November, 2018, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html