Audrey Ignatoff
Improving anti-bullying laws
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By Audrey Ignatoff
July 29, 2018

Bullying has become an epidemic in our society, causing kids not to attend school, drop out of school, become mentally disturbed, commit suicide, and become violent themselves. Yet, fully 64 percent of students who were bullied do not report it.

Every state has an Anti-Bullying Law and many also have Anti-Bullying Policies. However, New Jersey has the strongest Anti Bullying Law. In addition, the Federal Government also has an Anti-Bullying Law that address bullying as harassment in protected areas such as disability, race, religion, color, national origin and age.

While these laws are welcome and have helped the victims of bullying press criminal and civil charges against bullies and schools, there is still some improvement needed. In particular, disabled victims need additional protection because they are the mot vulnerable targets.

The law should be tolled to eliminate statutes of limitations (which are rather short) when a disabled victim discovers an emotional and/or physical problem directly related to the bullying some time later. Often, bullying was not addressed properly by schools and colleges when it occurred, and perhaps disabled victims were not able to communicate properly to parents, law enforcement, etc. at that time, but are able to do so when they are more mature. Thus, bullying should be taken as seriously as other forms of child and sexual abuse. Often, lawyers do not want to take on these cases or they want a great deal of money to do so which the victim often does not have.

I am proposing that we lobby our state and federal representatives to toll bullying cases of disabled where harm was discovered later, and the victims can clearly connect this bullying with their emotional and/or physical problems. Also, I am proposing a campaign to raise money and establish a legal fund to help disabled victims of bullying obtain legal assistance. Funds can be donated through The Education Project, a nonprofit organization at www.educationproject.org. In addition, we should encourage more attorneys to take on bullying cases either on a contingency basis or at a reduced fee and establish a pool of lawyers in each state, starting with New Jersey. Two notable cases of bullying where the victims committed suicide were Tyler Clementi and Mallory Grossman.

The disabled are the most bullied group and bullying often leads to serious problems such as suicide, drug abuse, and mental and emotional issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This also causes a great economic loss to society in terms of lost talent, contributions, and income. Bullying adds a great deal of stress to the victim as well as their families, and the effects can last well into adulthood and even throughout life.

© Audrey Ignatoff

 

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Audrey Ignatoff

Audrey Ignatoff is the president of Senior Arts and Systems, a consulting company in health care and geriatrics... (more)

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