It’s mid-August and plans for the upcoming school year are still largely uncertain. Much of California will begin the school year with online distance learning instead of in-person instruction. But things could change at any time – and not necessarily for the better.
If you have a child in school, you likely realize that there are difficult tradeoffs with any decision school districts and state government make. And while you are keeping an extra close watch on your child’s mental health throughout these uncertain times, please be on the lookout for a hazard that may be present whether school is in person or online: bullying.
For students in parts of the country resuming in-person education, bullying is both a perennial threat and one that poses unique new opportunities during the pandemic. In some states, for instance, anti-mask and anti-distancing sentiments are strong (usually guided by the beliefs of parents and government officials). In such areas, many students may fail to wear a mask or respect social distancing requests, and they may bully others who are simply trying to protect their own health. The CDC is even warning about the potential for mask bullying and strongly recommending that schools adopt mandatory mask policies along with strategies for responding to negative behavior surrounding masks.
For students learning from home – especially those who have been bullied in the past – distance learning is likely a relief from the social hazards they might face in school. But here, parents need to be careful as well. Cyberbullying is pervasive, and your child won’t be immune from bullies just because they are not physically in school. The bullying likely won’t occur on the platforms used for education (like Zoom). Instead, they will probably occur via text or on social media platforms.
If you suspect or learn that your child is being bullied and the school is not doing enough to put a stop to the behavior, it’s time to get a strong legal advocate on your side. Please take a few moments to read our page on school bullying and abuse, then contact us to discuss your rights and legal options.