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Tennessee addresses bullying problems in local school systems

Tennessee laws help protect students from bullying at school.
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    December 14, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- According to the state Department of Education, almost 75 percent of bullying reports in Tennessee public schools were confirmed when school officials looked into such issues last year. Investigations uncovered that most reported cases in the state, 695, were based on sex- or gender-discrimination. Moreover, 321 episodes were linked to other issues, including race, national origin or color. Also, 168 of the reports involved children with disabilities.

The numbers make up the first official analysis on school bullying in the state, which is required by a new anti-bullying law that was implemented last year. The law requires districts to put together annual reports on bullying cases with the state Department of Education (DOE).

Tennessee law defines "bullying" as a form of harassment, which involves three components:
- Aggressive behavior
- A pattern of this behavior over some time
- An "actual or perceived imbalance of power" between the harasser and the victim

Moreover, the report indicates that roughly 7.5 percent of cases are executed through an electronic medium. Thankfully, the 2012 law includes provisions against "cyberbullying," which takes place via online social media platforms.

The report points out that increased awareness of bullying may generate greater use of the term "bullying." However, knowledge and training can help students, teachers, school staff and locals accurately identify and distinguish bullying-like behaviors. This will help protect victimized children.

To help ensure that individuals comprehend the acts associated with bullying, the law requires each school district to provide staff with the school's specific bullying policy. Moreover, the policies must include prevention strategies and plans to address harassment when it happens. Teachers and therapists must also be trained on the issue.

Bullying in Tennessee

Pursuant to a recent Tennessee Supreme Court ruling, school districts are liable for physical or emotional injuries that occur as a result of school harassment that follows from negligence on the school's part. When a school has knowledge of a bullying problem and fails to take proper action against such issues, the school could be 100 percent responsible for any consequential injuries to a child -- physical or emotional.

If your child is a victim of bullying in Tennessee, you should contact an experienced personal injury law attorney. School should be a safe environment for your child, where he or she can learn and prosper without the risk of harassment. If another is continually bothering your child, the school should do something about it. To learn more, speak with a qualified legal professional in your area.

Article provided by Cantrell, Cantrell & Fisher
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