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Back to School Safety in West Virginia: Bully Prevention

As our fourth installment on school safety, we have chosen to examine school bullying and how it can be prevented. In West Virginia, the state legislature adopted a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying. West Virginia Code section 18-2C-3 provides that each county board of education shall establish a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bulling. What exactly is bullying, then?

Bullying, as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is an aggressive behavior that is intended to cause harm or distress, occurs repeatedly over time and involves an imbalance of power or strength.

Bullying can take many forms including physical bullying, emotional bullying, verbal bullying, or cyber bullying.

Bullying can be very dangerous for the victim and society. Bully victimization has been found to be related to higher rates of anxiety, loneliness, and depression and is linked to a lower self-esteem. Bullied victims often have higher school absenteeism rates, are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, and experience poorer general health than their non-bullied peers.

Here are some warning signs of bullying as provided by the National Safety Council:

· Dislikes or has lost interest in school

· Appears afraid of going back to school

· Has unexplained cuts or bruises

· Appears sad or moody when talking about school

· Returns from school with torn, damaged or missing articles of clothing, books, or belonging.

If you suspect that your child has is the victim of bullying the following steps can help stop the bullying:

· Empower your child to speak up if he or she is being bullied

· Ask your child questions about who was involved, what occurred, and where the incident happened

· Figure out if the bullying is still occurring. Explore possible actions your child may need to take to be safer at school

· Inform your child's school of the bullying. Work with the school to confront the bullying situation and consult with the counselor about ways your child can cope and move on from the bullying situation.

Bullying can be a very serious issue. Be sure to talk with your kids about their school day and be on the look out for any signs that your child may be a victim of bullying.

As kids start the new school year, the attorneys and staff at the Manchin Injury Law Group wish you a safe, enjoyable, and productive school year!

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