Count On Team Finn When You Need The Win

School bullying can lead to the loss of young lives

Recently, The Washington Post published a heartbreaking story about the nearly 200 children and high schoolers who took their own lives in recent years after being egregiously bullied in what should have been safe school environments.

The issue of schools and school districts failing to adequately address bullying and to protect children is becoming so pronounced that multiple families of those lost have secured multi-million-dollar verdicts in recognition of their profound losses and suffering.

Are schools liable when the worst occurs?

Some cynics have insisted that “bullying doesn’t cause suicide” and neither does school/district inaction. “Kids will be kids,” they argue. However, the reality is that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that kids who are bullied suffer a higher risk of suicidal behavior. They also are at a greater risk of struggling academically, developing depression and/or anxiety and facing challenges ranging from sleep disturbance and altered eating patterns to loneliness.

Schools are not ignorant of these facts. As the director of the Students’ Civil Rights Project at the nonprofit legal advocacy organization Public Justice has observed, “Schools know that if they do not address harassment and bullying that there is a foreseeable risk that suicide could result.” He also notes that the increasing number of large verdicts against schools in bullying cases serves as “a wake-up call to schools around the country that unless you protect our children, you will be in the same position: You will be sued, and you will have to pay substantial amounts of money to settle those cases.”

Although all states have enacted laws designed to combat school bullying, it is in civil courtrooms all across the country where negligent schools are being most effectively held to account when bullying leads to child suicide. As a result, heartbroken parents of those who have been lost may benefit from seeking legal guidance accordingly.