Are you being bullied? You could be entitled to claim personal injury compensation
We are told that our school days are the best days of our lives - running through fields, spending a few pence pocket money on sweets and comics, all play with no work or responsibilities and hundreds of friends. But for some the classroom can be a very lonely place and this loneliness can follow them throughout their life and end up in them having to make a personal injury compensation claim.
Bullying has always been a problem. Since the dawn of time there have been pigtails pulled, kneecaps kicked and chairs pulled out from behind unfortunate kids. But today the problem seems to have escalated and as people become more free and easy in their ways of living, their bullying tactics become more severe.
Gun crime has caused increasing concern for a while but it seems that the kids have turned to their rap and action film star heroes for a bit of guidance and have emerged packing more heat than a lorry load of gas cookers. There have been a number of shootings reported where kids have shot each other in gang attacks or just picked on outsiders and left them with serious personal injuries resulting from gunshot wounds.
But not being able to get hold of a firearm won't stop kids bullying and they have become increasingly inventive using anything they can get their hands on to harm their victims. There was one case reported in 2005 of a 14-year-old girl who stabbed a fellow pupil several times in the eye, head and back with a pair of scissors while being egged on by two other girls.
Reports say that the girls had started off by taunting the victim about her long hair and this escalated into a disgraceful act of violence which resulted in a young girl needing surgery to repair the cut in her eyelid, which had penetrated deep enough to bruise her eyeball.
Other cases of bullying in schools have involved attacks with a whole range of instruments including compasses and ball point pens and a large amount of personal injury compensation claims have been made accordingly over the years.
Bullying - a new era
Cyber-bullying is the latest cruel craze. This kind of harassment occurs mostly outside of school but very much effects pupils' lives and learning within school. There was a storyline recently featured on BBC One's Waterloo Road in which a teenage girl created a hate website in a bid to turn all the other children in her year against one pupil.
She had taken a picture of her victim girl with few clothes on and threatened to unveil her modesty on the website, leaving the victim distraught and contemplating suicide. But, eventually a teacher stepped in, the hate site was removed and no personal injuries were sustained. At least 16 children commit suicide in the UK every year as a result of being bullied at school and those in authority failing to intervene.
Why do bullies do it?
There are a number of reasons why people become bullies as children and carry forward this behaviour when they reach adulthood:
Frustration - the child has an impairment of some kind, such as dyslexia or autism, and is frustrated and resentful because the source of their difficulty has not been identified.
Vicious circle - a child is bullied and an adult fails to stop them suffering so the child begins to exhibit aggressive behaviour as a survival extinct.
Poor or no role model - lack of a good role model at home results in a child not learning appropriate behaviour skills.
Abuse or neglect at home - the child is being abused and reacts by expressing anger through bullying.
Undue influence - the child has fallen in with the wrong crowd.
Conduct disorder - the child displays a precursor to a personality disorder.
They should know better
But when it comes to bullying, children are by no means the only guilty parties; pupils bully pupils, teachers bully teachers and pupils bully teachers. Bullying is as rife in the workplace as it is in the school playground and leads to a number of accident at work compensation claims each year.
There is thought to be as much bullying coming from the top as there is amongst colleagues. According to Bully Online, teachers are one of the largest group of enquirers and in many cases the head teacher is identified as the serial bully of both staff and teachers. One reason for this is that they are trying to divert attention away from the fact that they are incompetent and unfortunately many heads have low emotional intelligence.
There have been cases reported of adults attacking one another with staplers, letting down colleagues' car tyres and even spreading slanderous rumours to others at the water cooler or circulating hate emails.
What can be done?
The first step to preventing the act of bullying is to educate others about the reasons why bullies pick on others, as explained above. There are a number of things that can be done including ignoring the problem, punishing the bully and punishing the target of bullying when they stand up for themselves, all of which can accelerate the situation.
Another option is to expel the bully from school or dismiss them from a job and effectively remove the problem. However, this is just another form of avoidance and often means that the victim will just be passed into the hands of another bully.
The Government has strong views that bullying should be taken very seriously and that pupils should have a say in the way that bullies are penalised. Commons Education Select Committee Chairman Barry Sheerman has commented, "The idea that bullying is in some way character building and simply part of childhood is wrong and should be challenged."
The committee has therefore called for pupils to be involved in dishing out punishments, such as litter picking and cleaning up around the school, for children who are caught bullying and Sheerman went on to say, ".We would expect previous bullying to be taken into account when deciding on appropriate disciplinary measures. "
It is thought that this peer-lead initiative designed to deter bullies will help to protect Britain's children against malicious torment and personal injury caused by school bullies in the future. This tactic could also be used in the workplace where a jury of colleagues choose the fate of bullies to reduce the risk of psychological and physical attacks that can lead to claims for personal injury compensation.
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