School bullying: what to do & when to get legal advice

child being bullied at school

School should be the one place where all children feel safe. Sadly, for thousands of Australian students, this is often not the case. Students all over Australia have been subjected to bullying, abuse and harassment by fellow students.

Bullying comes in many forms, from physical and sexual abuse to verbal and social bullying and, increasingly, cyberbullying.

All forms of bullying can have serious mental health impacts on young people, causing and contributing to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological conditions.

What to do

If your child is being bullied at school, the first step should always be to listen to them and record detailed notes about what they have told you. You want to have as clear a picture as possible regarding exactly what has occurred.

Next, you should contact the school and set up a meeting with the class teacher or an appropriate senior staff member, such as a principal or vice principal.

In this meeting, we recommend taking your notes with you, so you can communicate the information clearly and efficiently.

You should also take written notes at this meeting, recording the time and date of the meeting, what was communicated by the school, and any future actions/steps that were agreed upon.

At the conclusion of this meeting, you should seek assurances that the school will inform you of the outcome of any investigations. You should also ask them to provide you with a written copy of their policies and procedures for dealing with bullying.

From here, it is important to encourage open communication with your child so that any further developments or incidents are reported to you. If the bullying continues, it is important that this is again reported to the school at the first opportunity.

If your child has been bullied or abused at school, we want to help. We will fight for you. Click here to share your story, or call us on (02) 4907 4200.


When to speak to a lawyer

If you have made one or more reports of abuse to your child’s school and they continue to experience significant bullying, it may be time to speak to a lawyer.

In general, schools may be liable for the bullying of students in the following circumstances:

  • (a)Where the school has received a complaint & then fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the bullying from continuing; or (b) where the school fails to implement proper systems and procedures to prevent bullying; and


  • Where a child has suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of the bullying. For example, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder; and


  • Where this psychological harm could have been avoided if the school had taken the reasonable steps available to prevent the bullying from occurring.


This is a complex area of the law, and it is important you get advice from professionals with considerable experience dealing with school abuse and bullying.

How to make a claim

The first step is to contact us for a free initial consultation. This can be done via our online form or by calling our client intake team on (02) 4907 4200. Your information is confidential and will be treated with the utmost care and discretion.

We may require further information from you prior to a consult taking place. This may include:

  • Whether the bullying has been reported to the school;
  • How the school responded to this report;
  • Whether the bullying continued after it was reported;
  • Whether your child has suffered physical injuries or mental health harm as a result of the bullying.

Our solicitors will then review your information, and we will be in touch for a free consultation to discuss how we can best assist you.

If, after talking to us, you wish to proceed with a claim, we operate on a no-win-no-fee agreement, which we will explain in detail to you. Put simply, if we do not achieve a successful outcome for you, then you will not pay our legal fees.

We have almost 40 years of experience and have represented survivors of bullying and abuse in schools all over Australia, large and small, public, religious and private.

If your child has been bullied or abused at school, we want to help. We will fight for you. Click here to share your story, or call us on (02) 4907 4200.

Feature Image: Pexels

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