Bullying Common Side Effect of Family Legal Matters
Fleischer & Ravreby Advises Parents to Be Vigilant for Warning Signs in Children
Monday, October 18, 2010
(San Diego) – Family law situations are challenging to everyone involved. They are emotionally charged, and can often be rooted in vengeance or anger, others in sadness and pain.
“These situations tend to leave children whose parents are involved in family law situations feeling that their world is spinning out of control and that they are not safe. This is normal,” said Myra Chack Fleischer, lead counsel and Family Law Expert, Fleischer & Ravreby.
Fleischer says what is unfortunately more common than expected and not normal is the emergence of children as bullies in reaction to their circumstances. With bullying cases involving youth suicides at the forefront of the news, Fleischer urges parents involved in family law cases to be extra vigilant that their children are not perpetrating bullying behavior.
“Bullies harbor anger, and tend to see the world in black and white. They feel they have been treated unfairly, and that they lack acknowledgement. Doesn’t this perfectly describe a child, teen or even a young adult whose parents are getting divorced?” said Fleischer. “It’s natural for adults to be consumed with their legal problems, but they’ve got to remember to watch their children for signs and symptoms of reactive behavior such as bullying. It will only make a challenging situation worse for everyone if it’s not addressed quickly.”
Bullying carries with it educational, legal and financial consequences that are too serious to be ignored. “Could you or your bullying child live with being responsible for the suicide of another human being? Could you both deal with less dramatic but equally long term consequences, such as expulsion from school or jail time? Can you financially afford to defend against a lawsuit brought by the victim or his or her family? These are the real consequences of bullying allowed to get out of control,” said Fleischer.
How can you tell if your child is a bully? Watch how your child treats other kids, experts advise. Monitor e-communications and pay attention to popular websites such as MySpace and Facebook. Bullies often like to dominate others, hide their behavior from adults, blame someone else for their problems and derive satisfaction from the fear or pain of others.
What should you do if one day you get a call from your child’s school, telling you that your child has been bullying other kids? “Stay calm, and really listen to what you are being told by teachers or counselors,” said Fleischer. “Begin working with school personnel to find out what’s going on.” If the negative behavior doesn’t stop, consult a mental health professional, she advises. “You want to nip bullying in the bud.”
Bullying can quickly escalate to create legal consequences. If you’re concerned that your child may harass or harm someone to the point of legal action, consult an experienced Family Law Attorney immediately to discuss the best options to remedy the situation not only for your family, but for those who may have been victimized.
How families can help prevent bullying:
- Create a home environment of tolerance, where differences are accepted and everyone feels valued.
- Encourage your school to develop policies and procedures regarding bullying.
- Ask for a bullying prevention program to be implemented in your school.
- Intervene every time you witness bullying behavior.
- If your child bullies others, provide predictable, consistent, matter-of-fact consequences.
- Support the child who is bullied. Work with the school to provide your child with effective protection against retaliation.
- Encourage bystanders to speak out against bullying behavior and to report it to adults.
- Spend time with your child. All children need a daily, personal connection with parents, teachers and other caring adults.