Houston Board Certified Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan strongly believes that child and young adult victims that stand up to a bully, especially in school, should be applauded, not arrested.
Bullies generally target children they view as being weaker, smaller or socially awkward. Children with mental health disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, are especially vulnerable to being bullied.
Effects of Being Bullied
According to Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal of the National Institute of Health,
In the aftermath of being bullied, victims may develop a variety of psychological as well as somatic symptoms, some of which may persist into adulthood. Psychological symptoms may include social difficulties, internalizing symptoms, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders (i.e., anorexia or bulimia nervosa). Somatic symptoms may include poor appetite, headaches, sleep disturbances, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
For many victims, the bullying lasts for weeks, months and even years before the victim finally has enough and musters up the courage to fight back. And then, instead of being commended for standing up to the bully, the victim is often victimized again by the school district police department which labels him the aggressor and arrests and charges him with Assault causing bodily injury.
The parents and grandparents of today’s youth grew up in simpler times when fighting in school was handled by the school, usually by paddling. School principals understood that when victims finally stood up to bullies and fought back it is was huge for their self-esteem and the bullies stopped picking on them.
Zero Tolerance Policies Should be Reformed
Texas’ “zero tolerance” policies should be changed so that the victims of bullying who fight back or lash out are not arrested and charged in court. Even psychology experts agree that reforms need to be made. According to the American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force,
Zero tolerance policies as applied appear to run counter to our best knowledge of child development. By changing the relationship between education and juvenile justice, zero tolerance may shift the locus of discipline from relatively inexpensive actions in the school setting to the highly costly processes of arrest and incarceration. In so doing, zero tolerance policies have created unintended consequences for students, families, and communities.
Effect of Current Laws
Unfortunately, until these zero tolerance policies are changed, victims of bullying continue to get into serious trouble for fighting back or lashing out. In addition to in or out of school suspension or placement at an alternative school, these victims frequently get charged with Assault and wind up in juvenile district court.
A juvenile delinquency charge puts the student at risk of a permanent juvenile record that could negatively impact his future, such as acceptance into top universities or enlistment in the military.
Attorney James Sullivan fights for these students so that their future is not ruined by a juvenile or criminal record. Sullivan defends children and young adults facing Assault charges from all of the school districts in Harris County.
If your son or daughter is facing Assault charges in the 313th, 314th or 315th District Courts of Harris County, it is important to hire an experienced juvenile defense attorney.
James G. Sullivan and Associates
Attorney James Sullivan has been defending children and adults accused of Assault in juvenile and criminal courts since 1994. Sullivan is also an expert in juvenile law, having been Certified in Juvenile law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2004.
To discuss your child’s case, contact James Sullivan at 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation.
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Our Houston criminal lawyers defend clients charged with crimes in district courts and county criminal courts, including domestic violence (assault of a family member), drug possession or drug delivery, violent crimes, and juvenile delinquency.