“No intent” to harm in hitting and spitting on a child in Swedesboro; therefore, no bullying?

A news story came out this morning about a young child in Swedesboro, New Jersey who is allegedly the target of repeated bullying during bus transportation – including being spit on and hit – to the point that he is now in therapy.  The District determined that the latest hitting incident was not “bullying” because the student who struck the child (the same student allegedly doing all the other spitting and hitting) did not “intend” any harm.  http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/24833208/swedesboro-mother-claims-her-5-year-old-son-was-bullied

Regardless of the actual intent as to any one specific incident, it’s hard to imagine how there would be no finding of intent if the entire course of conduct was viewed as an ongoing unit, instead of looking at each separate act of abuse in isolation.  Unfortunately, this is a common approach taken by school Districts.  They investigate each alleged act as if it was a stand alone event, even in the face of an ongoing pattern of complaints.

It can be critical that parents who report abuse over time do not fall into the trap of treating each incident as if it were isolated from the whole.  When a child is targeted by individuals or groups for repeated bullying, schools cannot make appropriate decisions or take appropriate action unless they analyze the situation as a whole.

Pressure can be brought on school administrators to be certain that the larger picture is not ignored.  Don’t get trapped in the details of a single event to the exclusion of the whole.

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