School bullying and cyberbullying would not be an issue in Oklahoma K-12 schools in a perfect world. But school bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment have been a growing concern facing students, parents, and schools throughout Oklahoma.
Fry & Elder attorney Preston Bennett knows this all too well. The up incoming Tulsa attorney recently won a civil lawsuit for a client involving a repeated school bullying incident.
“It was a unique case in that my client was not necessarily fighting the school, we were fighting against a policy they had in place,” Preston Bennett said. “These types of situations can get very emotional and volatile quickly. It was important for us to take the right kind of approach and be patient while always having the best interest of the child in mind.”
Bennett suggests that there has been an uptick in these types of cases partially because of increased access to social media and technology, and also because of other factors such as the Coronavirus Pandemic and increased inflation.
“There are a lot of people on edge right now regarding many of the policies in place,” Preston said. “Some of that can’t help but filter down to our youth which often translates into aggressive behavior.”
According to a 2020 report from The Heartland Institute almost one in five Oklahoma high school students, 19.4 percent, were bullied on school property in 2019, while another 14.5 percent of state high school students reported being cyberbullied.
Defining Oklahoma School Bullying:
The Oklahoma anti-bullying laws include the following definition of bullying or harassing behavior per Oklahoma Statues Title 70. Schools §70-24-100.3:
“Bullying” means any pattern of harassment, intimidation, threatening behavior, physical acts, verbal or electronic communication directed toward a student or group of students that results in or is reasonably perceived as being done with the intent to cause negative educational or physical results for the targeted individual or group and is communicated in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school’s educational mission or the education of any student.
In 2022, Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, authored Senate Bill 1138 as a modification to School Safety and Prevention Act to help improve the safety of public schools and better protect students from bullying and harassment.
According to the StopBullying.gov website, “Oklahoma school districts must adopt a policy for the discipline of all children attending public school and for the investigation of report incidents of bullying. School district policies must contain key policy and procedural elements …”
The website also highlights how Oklahoma anti-bullying laws encourage districts to “train teachers and other school staff on how to respond to bullying incidents.”
“Most Oklahoma school districts have become more proactive in implementing and updating bullying prevention strategies and policies,” Preston Bennett said.
Bennet was quick to follow that up saying no policy or prevention strategy is perfect. A situation may arise in which calling an experienced attorney who will advocate for you and your child.
Experience The Fry & Elder Difference
With origins dating back to 1932, the name Fry & Elder has long been synonymous with Tulsa legal excellence.
The firm focuses on family law and personal injury law in addition to criminal law. Fry & Elder has also been nationally recognized having been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms list every year since 2014.
Contact Fry & Elder today to set up a personal consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable Tulsa school bullying attorney.