SCHOOL BULLYING - A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE (PAPER ONE)
Why do they bully my child at school who is already suffering from autism? Enough is enough!
Helping your child to improve on his/her development owing to his/her autistic characteristics is already a headache to many parents. The least parents would like to see is that your child is being bullied at school. Do you know that Hong Kong has one of the highest world rating in terms of school children being bullied. Of course, this sort of rating is nothing to be boastful about. The bad news is that austitic children are more prone to be bullied at school. If your austitic child is receiving some sort of therapy, the school bullying will definitely impede the progress and effectiveness of the therapy.
At the present moment, there are no specific laws in Hong Kong that relate to an increasingly important and worrying social issue of school bullying. But there are some laws that can be relied on to pinpoint the evil conduct of school bullying which can bring justice to all. Common assault is one good example of the law that the victim and his/her parents can rely on the police to take legal action against the intruder that is the person who bullied your child.
No one wants to go court. No one wants to go to a police station either. From my professional experience, I can understand your worries, and I can understand your frustration. Don`t worry too much as yet. There are many things that you can do before you even go and find a lawyer to talk to. It may even not be the case that you need to talk to a police officer, or face a judge in a court of law.
It is a natural instinct that parents will protect their children. I was once bitten by a dog because I walked pass her cubs. So when you know that your child has been bullied at school, you as parents should start protecting your child and put the bullying to a stop. But how?
Can you remember what you had eaten for breakfast three days ago? Unless you keep a diary as people used to do a lot in the old days. The protection starts from taking record. In law, taking record of what had happened is in fact part of gathering evidence. But what has gathering of evidence to do with protecting my child who had been bullied?
A child who had been bullied at school once told me that she was being "attacked" by two boys who poured sand onto her face. Was the incident a mere playfulness that has crossed the lines, or was the pouring of sand an intentional act of "hurting" the poor girl who didn't expect her classmates to treat her that way. If the poor girl was being bullied, and no one should tolerate this behaviour of the intruder. The Education Department in Hong Kong has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy towards school bullying.
Turning back to the incident of the girl being bullied, if a school staff happened to be around and have witnessed the incident, the credibility of the story thereby strengthens. As parents, you should take notes of what you had learned of the unhappy incident, such as the date, place, time, people involved, any witnesses and of course what had happened. Keep these notes as a record, and use them should you decide to take actions against the person who has bullied your child.
Actions that you may take would include making a complaint to the class teacher, the school or even the parents of "the bully", and hopefully these actions will put a stop to the bullying that has troubled your child and you as parents. I will suggest to you in the upcoming papers more details of gathering evidence and the actions you may take to stop the bullying, before considering legal action.