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Learn how to identify bullying and what type of behavior may be actionable. This information is excerpted from "Bigger than Bullies" materials.

Bullies and the Bullied: What to Look for

The act of bullying is a sign of insecurity, and therefore, bullies usually target kids who aren't confident or assertive enough to stand up to them. Male bullies are easier to detect, as they often have a positive view towards violence and may be aggressive and frequently angry.

Female bullies usually use isolation techniques to bully victims. They spread nasty gossip or lies and try to manipulate others to "hate" the victim. They are often popular and have an obsession with being popular. Female bullies usually have a strong clique of friends.

Spotting a bullying victim, on the other hand, can be hard. They may seem disconnected from school or extracurricular activities. Although they may have outward signs of physical violence (scars, cuts, bruises), they may only complain of non-visible physical ailments (headaches or stomachaches). Often, they will be anxious and suffer from low self-esteem.

A parent's legal rights when dealing with bullies

If your child has suffered an injury or mental anguish as a result of bullying at school, it might be necessary to consult a lawyer to assure your child's well being. Most lawyers will offer a free consultation and will be able to tell you if you have legal recourse for dealing with a school bully.

Parents must decide when the line is crossed and when it is time to take legal action. Sometimes this is a very difficult decision. Becoming familiar with the "Protection From Harassment Act" will help.

There are two actionable criminal offenses that may relate to bullying:

•  The offense of actual harassment

•  The offense of placing people "in fear of violence"

Schools have a responsibility to thwart bullying, ensuring the safety of all children. Any threatening behavior - psychological or physical - should be documented and addressed with both the victim and bully. Often, this is enough to stop the bullying act. If not, then it might be a good idea to start a legal discussion with an attorney to understand your rights.

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