Bullying Lawsuits are on the Rise

Bullying has garnered a lot of attention lately, rightfully so. What is alarming to me is the lack of discussing how adults bully children. Our society is totally comfortable discussing kids bullying kids. Schools are willing to pay for staff training on bullying. Restorative practices have become a hot topic and are being taught all over. Don't get me wrong, this is all good stuff. What is not good is the lack of knowledge and unwillingness to educate school staff on child sexual abuse prevention which is a form of bullying in the worst way. Why are we afraid to question the behavior of adults but not children. Why are we so quick to see how kids bullying kids is so damaging that we are willing to put a ton of money and energy into finding solutions but not when it's adults bullying kids. Our kids' voices matter and whether they are being bullied by another kid or an adult we need to listen. Schools need to listen. The authorities need to listen.

From CBS News:

It's a parent's worst nightmare, their child being teased, even hurt in school.

One in four kids experiences bullying in the classroom.

A growing number of parents are filing civil lawsuits against school districts for not keeping their kids safe, and many end up in court.

“It was horrendous, it was gut wrenching,” mother Tracy Samon said.

Samon says the day she found out her daughter was being bullied in school broke her heart.

“She would be hysterical crying,” Samon said.

Samon said her daughter's classmates would call her names and taunt her. She said her daughter's finger was slammed in a locker.

“No child should ever feel in fear of when they go to school,” Samon said.

Samon said the school did not keep her daughter safe, even after she told them about the bullying on several occasions in person and by email.

“It got to a point where we had to pursue this legally, because they were not taking any action,” Samon said.

And she is not alone. The National School Board Association says there is anecdotal evidence that bullying lawsuits are on the rise nationwide.

While there's no hard data for the number of lawsuits, an advocacy group called Public Justice tracked 128 settled cases since 1996 nationwide. And most often, school districts prevail.

“Bullying cases are very challenging, because we don’t bring a case against the bully, we bring a case before the school for failing to prevent the bullying from occurring,” Samon said.

In another case, attorney Craig Goldenfarb won a civil lawsuit against the Palm Beach County School District, in part because cell phone video was available.

Samon says unless the school is aware of the intention or the bullying before-hand, there's no liability or fault on the school.

The Florida Department of Education has a very particular definition of bullying - covering power, harm and harassment.

“So we usually have to prove there’s something the school could have done, either before the event or during the event, that would have made a difference,” Samon said.

The National Center for Education Statistics finds about 20 percent of kids get bullied at school.

But Florida's most recent data show our area schools reported only 330 bullying incidents.

That's less than one percent.

Samon says bullying is under reported. She hopes her story inspires other parents to speak up.

“You’ve got to stand up for your child, be their advocate. Don’t be afraid by the politics or afraid of what your peers will say,” Samon said.

Samon's case has not gone to court yet.

 

 

Sex misconduct revisits elite prep school already under fire

An elite New Hampshire prep school is facing new revelations about another competition of sexual conquest two years after a student was convicted of sexually assaulting a freshman as part of a tradition called "Senior Salute." From ABC News, source

This type of sexual misconduct needs to have swift and significant consequences for the offenders. This is not something to shrug off as another "boys will be boys" moment. These are serious, malicious, and calculated actions. The offenders should be forced to work in a rape clinic for at least 5 years, in addition to other hard labor community service, write a research paper on rape culture and child molestation and pay restitution to the victims. 

3 Victims at Pre-school Bridgewater State University in Boston

According to the Boston Herald (full article, click here)

"Kyle P. Loughlin, who inappropriately touched the children between January and March 2015 while working at the BSU Children’s Center, pleaded guilty in Brockton Superior Court to charges including rape and abuse of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. Judge Angel Kelly Brown sentenced him to 7 1⁄2 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation."

What you may not understand is that when a criminal pleads guilty he is pleading guilty to lesser charges than the crime he actually committed. There are many reasons why this leads to a false sense of security for the public.

 

Ex-Substitute Teacher faces Judge on child sex abuse charges

From NECN, read the whole story here.

Blake Rider, 37, of Forestdale, Massachusetts, was arraigned at Barnstable District Court on multiple charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, along with two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office confirmed

Brian L. Maynard sentenced to 20 years in Child Sexual Abuse Case

I am glad that the Judge imposed a 20-year sentence. It's bad enough that the plea bargains continue to happen, which give society a false understanding of the actual crime committed. I don't know what test they speak of in the article, referenced by the Public Defender but I completely disagree with the results, "tests that found him to pose a relatively low risk to re-offend." There are numerous studies that show child molesters will continue to molest kids until the day they day, having an average of 118 victims in their lifetime.

For the news article, click here.

3 Women arrested for sexually abusing a mentally disabled child

Here is a link to the news story.

Did you know that disabled children have the highest rate of molestation? Disabled children are three times more likely to be sexually abused than children without disabilities. For children with mental health and intellectual disabilities that rate jumps to five times more. I have an autistic brother so this story is particularly scary to me. 

"In addition to contributing to the higher rates of sexual abuse against children with disabilities, ableism has structured our responses and supports for children with disabilities around notions of their dependency as opposed to supporting more independence. This has resulted in a culture of compliance that surrounds children with disabilities. Although all children are trained to be compliant to authority figures in our society, compliance is stressed to an even greater degree for children with disabilities. In this environment, children with disabilities are denied the right to say no to everyday choices such as what they will wear or eat, leaving them completely unequipped to say no when someone is trying to hurt them.

Children with disabilities are systematically denied basic information about sexual health and relationships. This practice can be traced to a desire to shield children with disabilities from the realities of life as well as a belief that people with disabilities are asexual. As a result, sexual education is rarely provided in special education classrooms and, when it is, it is not tailored to the needs of children with disabilities. Moreover, family members may have personal anxieties about their children having sex and therefore will not raise such issues with them or the schools. As such, children with disabilities are not taught about their bodies, do not learn to distinguish good touches and bad touches, and are never given a framework for healthy relationships. Without such fundamental lessons, children with disabilities have no language to describe what has happened to them when they are abused."

Former Cheer Coach gets life sentence for molesting students

Timothy Wells-Lee was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 42 years. All four students were under the age of 16, we know at least one of them was 14. This is one of the longest sentences I have read for this crime and I want to make sure it is well known. We need tougher sentencing for these crimes against our kids. This case also shows the need for youth-serving organizations to be more thorough in background checks and not rely solely on criminal background checks. They need to conduct a thorough check of all previous employment and scrutinize any gaps in employment or frequent employment changes. This coach worked at three different youth-serving organizations who all witnessed questionable behavior, documented here in the Memorandum Opinion from the appellate court.