Post-Election Bullying: An Overview of Your Legal Rights

Post Election Bullying

Every presidential election brings out an intense level of passion in voters.  This passion reminds us what it’s about to live in and participate in a democracy.  Every election also brings about a range of emotions.  These emotions can boil over in support of a voter’s or group of voters’ chosen candidate.  This year’s election was perhaps the most polarizing in history for several different reasons.  We are not here to comment in any way on the details of the election, the candidates or how anyone should feel about the results.  The essence of our freedom is that we are free to disagree reasonably.  Unfortunately, one of the problems that continues to garner attention is that many disagreements are being handled in an unreasonable manner, including among children.  The children’s rights lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys would like to touch on the troubling issue of post-election bullying and what can be done in response.

Post-Election Bullying – A Brief Description

StopBullying.gov defines bullying as, “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”  It’s unfortunate that many if not almost all of us have heard disparaging terms such as “fascist” or “communist” tossed about in furtherance of what was supposed to be political discourse.  It’s even more troubling when we hear about children being singled out or mistreated – sometimes physically – because of who they supported in the election.

A large number of children have also been subjected to post-election bullying because of who their families supported or who they were presumed to support based on how they looked, their gender, their religious beliefs or other assumptions.  Regardless of the context, bullying is still bullying and it’s something that requires a proper reaction.  Below are just a few examples of the types of post-election bullying that has been occurring around the United States in recent days and weeks.

Types of Post-Election Bullying

Bullying is still bullying regardless of context, and it’s still bullying regardless of how it occurs.  Below are just a few examples of the types of post-election bullying that can occur in the wake of an emotionally-charged election:

  • Physical bullying – There have been several reports around the country of children being beaten up because of who they openly supported or who they were perceived to have supported.  This is the most obvious form of bullying for adults to identify.
  • Hate speechDictionary.com defines hate speech as, “speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”  This can include such acts and statements such as spraying graffiti on school campuses and the like.  These acts spread fear and can prompt people to act out, sometimes violently against others.
  • Verbal bullying – As stated above, adults will sometimes see their political debates devolve into a contest of name-calling.  This is different than a child being called names or being taunted because one side won and the other lost the election or vice versa.  Verbal bullying inflicts real damage on its targets on a long-term basis, and it needs to be handled promptly and properly.
  • Relational bullying – Relational bullying can and has been occurring as a result of the recent election.  Relational bullying involves harming someone else’s reputation or social relationships.  We have all seen stories about how adults have been shunned from groups because of who they supported in the election.  This has been happening with children as well.
  • Cyberbullying – Elections have fundamentally changed since the Internet came about.  More information is available, more people are able to communicate instantly and more messages are spread around the world.  Elections and politics in general also lead to vicious online bullying.  This is a form of bullying that can have severe consequences.

Post-Election Bullying: Some Ideas for Parents

School districts around the United States are responding to the growing problem of post-election bullying by sending information to parents regarding how they should respond.  Some ideas from some of the different school districts and other concerned parties include:

  • Communication – Parents should spend time talking with their children regarding the results of the election.  This communication should include some perspective that the country has seen divisive moments in the past and we’ve always come through it.  Perhaps this perspective will help calm some of the thoughts and nerves that are out there.
  • Watch for warning signs – There are several warning signs that a child is being bullied and that a child is engaging in bullying.  Parents need to watch for these warning signs and respond to them immediately, whether their child is being bullied or is bullying others.
  • Report the problem – Bullying is often about the situation in terms of how it’s handled.  If a child is being bullied at school, the parents of that child need to report the problem to the school.  If the child is being bullied in some social or club setting, then parents need to take different steps to bring about an end to it. Regardless of the circumstances, parents need to report the problem.
  • Watch your own rhetoric – Children often act on what they see and hear at home, particularly based on the examples set by their parents.  If you find yourself engaging in intense discussions about the election that includes language that could be seen as offensive, you should consider taking steps to either avoid using that language or making sure you use it away from your children.

How Children’s Rights Lawyers Can Help

Despite the best efforts of parents and others, there are times when children will still be harmed because of bullying.  The prevalence of bullying has grown since the election.  If your child has been harmed as a result of post-election bullying or any other type of bullying and those who are responsible for that child’s treatment failed to act appropriately, you need to help restore your child’s safety and dignity.  Do so by seeking the help of children’s rights lawyers who understand what it takes to hold those responsible for this type of harm accountable.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.

 

Posted in: Children's Rights
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