Bullying has consumed the lives of many teens and adults. A bully is defined as a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller and weaker people. Some studies suggest that bullies act out of jealousy.
In the past, bullies were sent to the principal’s office, and the most severe consequences of their actions included school suspension and/or expulsion. Victims of bullying may be afraid to report such behavior for fear of retaliation. Failure to report can lead to more unwanted contact from the bully.
Some school districts have taken a new stance on bullying. Schools with School Resource Officers sometimes report school fights to the local police department. Parents are contacted, and complaints are issued against bullies. Bullies may now be the subject of a criminal prosecution. Rather than attending class in the morning, some bullies find themselves in a courtroom facing a judge and a prosecutor, instead of a school teacher. School fights can lead to charges including but not limited to assault and battery.
In Illinois, assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 30 days in the county jail. Battery is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to one year in the county jail.
Other forms of bullying are on the rise. Cyber-bullying occurs when the bully uses communication technology such as the internet, cell phones, etc. to harass another person. Cyber-bullying has been linked to suicide. There is no such thing as anonymity on the internet. Attorneys may subpoena information that could lead to the blogger/poster of the harassing comment(s). Text messages and e-mails may be used as evidence in the criminal prosecution of the cyber-bully. Cyber-bullying may lead to criminal prosecution and possible civil liability.
Parents should educate themselves on the signs of bullying. Parents should determine if their child is the victim or the aggressor in such activities. The legal ramifications of bullying changes the lives of everyone involved.
Jameika Williams Mangum is an Attorney at the Mangum Law Firm, LLC in the Chicago area. The Mangum Law Firm, LLC is a general practice firm with a focus on Criminal, Civil, and Family Law. For more information, please visit www.themangumlawfirm.com.
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