Are Bullying Lawsuits on the Rise?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 12, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Are bullying lawsuits on the rise? Parents and teachers everywhere have become more aware of the dangers of bullying and cyberbullying in both the classroom and on the Internet.

Many parents are now turning to the law to try to ensure their children's safety and welfare.

In turn, it seems that the number of bullying lawsuits filed in court is on the rise.

While there aren't any hard and fast statistics about the number of bullying lawsuits, the General Counsel for the National School Boards Association, Francisco Negron, says that "anecdotal evidence shows an obvious increase," USA Today reports.

One bullying lawsuit centers on the tragic case of Jon Carmichael. Jon was only 13-years-old when he committed suicide, which his parents believe was spurred by bullying. After his death, his parents, Jon Timothy and Tani Carmichael, filed a $20 million lawsuit against the school district, according to USA Today.

They allege that the school district repeatedly failed to take action against Jon's bullies, who flushed his head in a toilet and threw him into a trash can. In one incident, Jon was tied up naked and put in a trash can. The entire event was captured on film, which was posted on YouTube before it was taken down, reports USA Today.

How is it that parents like the Carmichaels can sue schools and school districts over bullying perpetrated by students?

It's because many states have passed laws that discourage bullying. Many schools are required to have policies in place that to reduce the number of bullying incidences, including policies that address the occurrence of cyberbullying. If the school doesn't enforce these policies, they could become legally liable.

While there is no specific federal law that addresses bullying directly, parents can file suits under equal protection laws if schools don't take action against bullies or try to stop incidents of bullying. This may be the route that many bullying lawsuits will take until more legislation is enacted that specifically targets bullying and cyberbullying.

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