More School Bullies Finding Themselves Court Defendants


School bullies who get a trip to the principal’s office could also find themselves in front of a judge, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. More parents whose children are beaten or bullied are suing attackers’ families or schools. Some want money to pay for broken noses or more-severe injuries. Others hope a lawsuit provides a sense of justice they didn’t get from criminal trials and school discipline. Violence-prevention centers are hearing from more parents about whether to take schools and bullies’ families to court. “A lot of parents who take steps to a civil case believe the criminal justice system didn’t work,” said William Lassiter of North Carolina’s Center for the Prevention of School Violence, one of the nation’s first school-safety agencies.

The center received one or two calls a week from concerned parents before the 1999 Columbine school shootings. Now, it gets about a half-dozen daily. About a quarter of those eventually discuss a lawsuit because police and school officials didn’t help them, Lassiter said. “Somebody has got to get serious about this,” said Mike Duitch, whose family lost a suit in 2001 against the Canton city schools. Duitch’s son, Nathan, was badly beaten by a group of students during his freshman year, an incident that the Duitchs said was part of a school-sanctioned day of hazing. No one tracks school violence lawsuits, but anecdotal evidence and interviews suggest civil courts are wading into these conflicts as the country focuses more on bullying.


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