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SCHOOL BULLYING COMPENSATION SOLICITOR

 

Schools have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for pupils to learn. They legally must deal with bullying behaviour of pupils and to provide support both for the victim and the perpetrator.

If the school fails to take reasonable steps to stop the bullying in circumstances where the school  knows or ought to know that a particular student is being bullied, the school they may be held negligent.  A pupil who suffers physical and/or psychological injuries due to the bullying of others may bring legal action against the school or relevant education authority for compensation for their injuries and disabilities. Bullying may also be considered a criminal offence in certain circumstances.

A student who is being bullied should notify their school teacher or principal immediately. Parents should speak with their child’s school to discuss what possible measures can be put in place to protect their child from further harm.

If your child has been physically assaulted, bashed, verbally abused, harassed or racially vilified, resulting in physical or emotional damage, you may wish to seek legal advice to find out what legal options your child has to protect themselves under the law, and whether they are entitled to compensation to pay for any medical treatment expenses, counselling sessions, pain and suffering.

Our personal injury solicitors are highly experienced in handling compensation claims involving school bullying. They have acted on behalf of children and their parents, in compensation actions. They have also acted on behalf of teachers and other staff who have themselves been subjected to bullying.

Complete the Contact Form or call our HELPLINE 1800 529 835 to receive OBLIGATION- FREE legal advice.

 

Schoolyard bullying

Bullying is described as a "repeated attack, physical, psychological, social or verbal in nature, by those in a position of power... with the intention of causing distress for their own gain or satisfaction". Bullying can result in health problems ranging from physical injuries from brawls (such as bruising, dislocations, fractures, brain damage, haemorrhage, quadriplegia, spinal injury)  and mental illness (depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder).

In extreme cases, bullying can result in suicide of the victim. Boys who are frequently bullied are four more times more likely to be suicidal than those not bullied while frequently bullied girls are eight more times likely to be suicidal (Kaltiala-Heini, Rimpela, Martunnen, Rimpela & Rantanen, 1999).

 

Examples of bullying acts committed by perpetrators:

  • physical assault such as kicking, hitting, pushing, punching, touching;
  • teasing, name-calling, taunting, rumour spreading or ostracism, sexual joking and innuendo;
  • continued harassment of a student by other students through email, text messages chat rooms with the aim of insulting and ridiculing others (cyber bullying); or
  • direct or indirect harassment such as sexual abuse, racial or homosexual vilification.

Student bullying compensation claims

Case 1:

A Victorian school girl was awarded $290,000 in compensation for bullying. The ordeal began when the girl was eight in grade 2 at a country Victorian state primary school. The bullies threatened to kill her, menaced her with scissors and broken bottles, punched and kicked her and pushed her off monkey bars, causing a back injury.

The Supreme Court, in 2010, overturned a decision by the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, which refused to compensate the girl because her attackers were under 10 - too young to face criminal charges. In making the ruling, the Supreme Court said the bullies meant to hurt their victim even if they weren't old enough to form "criminal intent".

Case 2:

The plaintiff was subjected to "consistent and systematic bullying" during his six years as a student at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth in the early to mid 90's. The victim was regularly called "sterile", "faggot", "paedophile" and "Nazi" by his peers and banned him from entering the Year 12 common room or sitting on the Year 12 lawn. The bullying made him agoraphobic, obsessive-compulsive and unable to hold down a job. He was awarded $468,736 in total. The Department of Education conceded it had breached its duty of care to the plaintiff. The court accepted that the teachers did nothing to deal with the victim's complaints and had not intervened to protect him from being socially ostracised.

Case 3:

In 2009, a boy was awarded $150,000 in compensation from St John's Lutheran School in Kingaroy related to injuries he suffered while at the school 11 years ago.  Lachlan suffered a minor brain injury affecting his left upper limb function, speech and co-ordination, as a result of physical attacks when he was five.

 

Staff Bullying

Staff bullying typically refers to teachers who are bullied by other teachers, executive staff members or school principals.

School teachers often experience bullying in the following forms:

  • Questioning of your decisions, procedures and judgment
  • Information is withheld which affects your performance
  • Tasks are set with unreasonable or impossible targets or deadline
  • Attempts to belittle and undermine your work
  • Recognition, acknowledgement and praise are withheld
  • You are ignored or excluded
  • You are exposed to unmanageable workload
  • Undermining of your integrity
  • Persistent criticism of your work and effort
  • Areas of responsibility are removed or added without consultation
  • You are required to carry out tasks that clearly fall outside your job description
  • Your concerns about unfair treatment, bullying and harassment are dismissed
  • Impossible deadlines are set for you
  • Insulting remarks or behaviour about one’s native language, race or ethnicity
  • Subjected to excessive teasing and sarcasm
  • Being shouted at or the target of rage or anger
  • Being subjected to verbal and non/or non-verbal threats
  • Being subjected to the spread of rumours and gossip

Teachers are sometimes bullied, physically assaulted, or verbally threatened by their own students. A teacher who has suffered harm (physical injury and/or psychological injury), may be eligible for compensation.

 

Bullying Compensation Legal Advice

Our compensation solicitors are specialists in personal injury law. They are experts in litigating and settling matters relating to school bullying. If you have been injured as a result of schoolyard bullying or staff bullying in a public or private school, we can help you.

Free legal advice is available to students (and their parents/guardians), and teachers who have suffered an injury as a result of bullying in primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions (university, TAFE, college).

Not all bullying claims automatically result in awards of compensation. You should seek legal advice on whether the circumstances in your case are serious enough to warrant bringing legal action for compensatory damages. Our solicitors mostly act on a No Win No Fee basis, and will advise you of any costs involved in seeking legal action should you win or lose your case.

Strict time limits apply in bullying compensation cases, so you shouldn’t delay in getting legal advice. Call our free hotline for advice, or complete our online Contact Form.

 

 

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