When Schools break the Rules

28 November 2014

A Court in Northern Ireland has awarded ?10,000 damages to a boy who suffered as a consequence of persistent bullying

The County Court in Northern Ireland has awarded £10,000 to a school boy who suffered psychiatric damage as a result of bullying he suffered during his time at secondary school. 

The boy joined the school in September 2005, and seemed to enjoy his first year there. However, the following year he became the target of daily incidents of bullying at the hands of another pupil. This bullying persisted for a number of months before the boy told his parents.

Towards the end of his second year at school, the matter was brought to the attention of staff at the school. However no immediate steps were taken by the school on account of their “no blame” policy. As a result, the boy remained in the same class as the other pupil throughout his third year at the school, and the bullying persisted.

In February 2008, staff at the school began to take a more pro-active approach and steps were taken by the teachers to put an end to the bullying.

The boy’s parents later brought a claim for damages against the school, alleging negligence and breach of statutory duty, by reason of the school’s delay in providing an adequate or effective response to the allegations of bullying. As a result of this failure, he suffered persistent bullying, which left him feeling isolated from his peers. In the end, he (with his parents) decided that he should leave the school altogether.

It was alleged that the school breached article 3 of the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 and articles 17, 18 and 19 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

In deciding the case, the County court accepted that this boy had suffered psychiatric damage and had developed a phobic anxiety order as a result of the bullying he suffered at the school, which could have been prevented, had the school acted within a reasonable time frame.

If your child is the victim of bullying and you believe the school is failing to take the necessary or sufficient steps to address the issue, it may be appropriate to seek legal advice at an early stage. Please do not hesitate to contact Brian Moss, solicitor in our litigation department for advice about any education issues you may have.

 

 

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