What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied

Certain crimes are taken very seriously in New Jersey, especially if they involve underage children. Such crimes include harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB). To ensure incidents of HIB are being prevented, reported, and remediated, the legislation has created guidelines for schools that require them to draft and implement policies and procedures that relate to HIB.  

Furthermore, if your child is accused of a HIB violation by their school, they can be disciplined by the school and in criminal court. Unfortunately, many students who were bullied in the past are likely to become bullies later on. This is particularly true for students who were not protected from bullying by their school or whose cries for help went unnoticed by the administration.  

Therefore, reaching out to an experienced criminal law attorney is incredibly important. Lento Law Firm has years of experience helping students defend themselves from not only school disciplinary actions but also from resulting criminal charges. They will use this experience to build a robust defense for both settings on your child's behalf. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online.  

How a Bully Is Created 

There are many studies that delve into how bullies are formed, but typically, they come from backgrounds where they were either bullied for being an outsider or felt tremendous pressure to satisfy the adults in their lives. When they were unable to please these adults, they suffered from low self-esteem or jealousy and began targeting children who were getting high praise and picking on them.  

If your child is being bullied, it is very important that you intervene immediately to prevent them from internalizing the issues and becoming a bully themselves. Additionally, if your child is accused of bullying, you must put aside the idea that a bullied child could never be a bully and get them the help they need to succeed in their defense. HIB accusations can seriously derail your child's life. The best thing you can do to prevent such consequences from happening is to work with a skilled criminal law attorney.  

How New Jersey Law Defines Racism 

In New Jersey, they have created the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which defines HIB as:  

  • Communications, gestures, or actions that are made verbally, physically, electronically, or in writing that are inspired by the victim's supposed or actual traits;  
  • These actions, communications, or gestures occur on school property, the school bus, or at a school-sponsored event or activity; and  
  • Is done knowing that it will physically or emotionally harm the victim, their property, or put them in fear of having themselves or their property harmed or damaged; or 
  • Behavior that insults or demeans another person such that it significantly disturbs the school's ability to operate orderly.  

In some cases, students who are accused of bullying may be retaliating for the bullying they have experienced. The original bully is bothered that they were hurt by their victim and decides to report this issue to the school or law enforcement out of spite. You would hope that the school and law enforcement would see what is really going on, but it is unlikely they will. They may even try to make a case out of your child to prevent other bullied children from retaliating.  

Either way, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can help. They will reach out to the school and law enforcement officials to explain your child's side of the story. The hope is that by reaching out early on, the case will be dismissed before your child is seen before the disciplinary committee at school or a criminal court judge. 

The Importance of “Intent” in Any Bullying Case  

In HIB-related offenses, the key component is “intent.” If the prosecution is unable to prove the defendant intended to cause the alleged victim harm, the case should be dismissed. For instance, if a middle school student is being bullied and decides to push their bully back, but the bully stumbles and hits their head on the ground, the middle school student should not be charged with a crime because of their action. If they are, the prosecution will have to prove that they intended to harm the bully. The child's defense team will gather evidence and testimony to refute this claim and show they were just trying to defend themselves.  

As you can see, the best defense to a bullying charge is to show that there was no intent of harm or property damage. Once this is shown, the prosecution will be unable to make their case, and the court will likely drop it.  

Potential Defenses Against Bullying Charges 

HIB violations are incredibly complex and require keen attention to detail when drafting a defense. The Lento Law Firm understands this and will ensure your child has as many defenses available as necessary. So, even if they have a strategic defense for why there was no intent of harm in the alleged actions, they may also create defenses to address other aspects of HIB violations. These defenses may include:   

  • Showing the gestures, actions, or behaviors were not motivated by a particular characteristic of the victim, or  
  • That the defendant's actions, gestures, or behaviors did not result in the school's inability to operate correctly. 

Children who are accused of bullying, especially those with a history of being bullied, should be protected from criminal charges for their alleged behavior. 

Possible Punishments for Bullying 

While the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights does not criminalize HIB violations specifically, it does provide school principals and law enforcement authorities with the power to bring criminal charges against a student for crimes that are HIB-adjacent.  

For instance, if a child is accused of bullying that includes criminal mischief, they can be placed in jail for up to six months and fined up to $1000. Similarly, if their bullying incident is tied to harassment or cyber harassment, they could face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.  

If the school decides to punish the child for bullying, they can face anything from detention to suspension and expulsion. Students who are expelled or suspended can face several different consequences, including diminishing grades, low self-esteem, mental and emotional health issues, and even physical manifestations of their stress. These results will only compound when the student goes to apply for college or certain employment opportunities and is forced to explain the incident that gave rise to their suspension or expulsion.  

Moreover, if a student who was bullied turns into a bullying student, this behavior will continue to increase after being disciplined by the school and removed from their educational environment. Lento Law Firm's goal, then, is to not only prevent your child from experiencing a criminal punishment but also prevent them from being ostracized by the school and having further behavioral issues.  

Other Criminal Activities that May Be Related to Bullying 

When your bullied child is charged with bullying in New Jersey, there are other criminal activities that they can be charged with as well:  

  • Intimidation 
  • Criminal mischief 
  • Stalking 
  • Harassment 
  • Assault 
  • Cyberbullying or cyberharassment 

How Lento Law Firm Can Help  

Children who are bullied in school tend to become bullies themselves, especially if no one intervened in the bullying they experienced. Moreover, parents of children who are accused of bullying usually do not believe their child is capable of bullying and fail to prepare for school disciplinary actions or even criminal charges appropriately. Instead, they rely on the story that their child was bullied, so how could they become a bully themselves and hope that the accusations will be dropped on their own?  

Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Children are more likely to be punished harshly when their parents fail to protect them during these proceedings. Hiring a competent and qualified attorney is the best way to ensure your child is actively defended and does not experience harsh and unnecessary consequences.  

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has helped children in New Jersey navigate harassment, intimidation, and bullying accusations. They understand how hard it can be for students who have been bullied in the past to find their place among their peers. As such, they will leverage this experience to strategize a solid defense on your child's behalf.  

Lento Law Firm will also gather relevant evidence and witness testimony that supports the defense they have strategized, fill out all of the legal forms, file them on your behalf, and meet with the school administration, law enforcement, and prosecution to try negotiating before the hearings begin. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online. Lento Law Firm is here to help. 

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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