As A Last Resort, Parents Turn To Restraining Orders With Bullying

In a desperate measure to combat bullying, some parents are now turning to restraining orders to ensure their kids are protected from other students.

Those who study the issue and help victims say that getting restraining orders are rare in cases of bullying as they create challenges for school administrators who must enforce the order. According to Superintendent Aaron Cornman, who recently received a restraining order in his district, said that the situation was challenging. However, he indicated that the district cooperates to ensure the safety of the children from bullying.

“Our school district works very diligently to make sure kids feel safe and are free from bullying,” Cornman said adding there have been no more incidents of violence.

A senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, Nan Stein, says that getting restraining orders are more often used in cases of dating and domestic violence than in bullying. She also says that parents turn to the court as a last resort.

“I think that schools are often slow to resolve these acts of violence or indicators of violence, so parents turn to the criminal justice system,” Stein said.

As Leah Thorsen of the St. Louis reports, a chief academic officer of the Francis Howell district, Mary Hendricks-Harris, said that when restraining orders are in effect, school officials work to ensure they are enforced which include making plans for students on which routes to take between classes to avoid each other.

“We do try to make those restraining orders work as well as we can,” she said.

However, according to the executive director and founder of the Megan Meier Foundation, which works to stop bullying, Tina Meier, obtaining a restraining order creates a difficult situation for schools. In addition, Meier said that some families seek restraining orders when they believe they have exhausted all other options to ensure the safety of their children.

“We don’t stand in the way,” Meier said. “We just try to get them to look at it from all aspects.”

She also said that the orders can make things more difficult for the victim when word spreads around school about the order.

“Now you know other kids are talking about it,” Meier said. “Other kids are making comments like, ‘You’re a snitch,’” she said.

Meier has worked with about half a dozen families who have sought restraining orders to stop bullying in school in the six years the foundation has been around. For instance, this fall, a family from Troy, Mo., who went to her organization for help got restraining orders against five teens who bullied a girl in school. As Meier put it, those teens in turn obtained orders against the girl and two of her family members. Ultimately, a judge ruled the girl and the five teens must stay away from each other.

“Our biggest hope is that we can help them resolve the situation before it turns into that,” Meier said. “Once it hits that level, it’s hard to let them go to school and a have a normal everyday life.”

01 6, 2014
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