Order of Protection Against Bullies
April 15, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Can teenagers anywhere in the U.S. get restraining orders against bullies who stalk, threaten, or verbally assault them?

I've been following the Phoebe Prince case in MA. This high school girl committed suicide after months of torment at the hands of a group of bullies. If Ms. Prince had been in college, I believe she could have gotten an order of protection against anyone who threatened her in these ways.

Can middle school or high school students being bullied get restraining orders to prevent bullies from harassing or stalking them?
posted by Elsie to Human Relations (5 answers total)
The parents of Jared High advise doing so--presumably they'd know if it wasn't possible, since they're active in campaigning for stronger anti-bullying laws. Their son went to school in Washington State.

There are assault and battery laws that pertain to juvenile offenders. Do not wait. Tell the police right away and have a report written up. With the proof you have collected, especially when there has been physical violence, obtain a restraining order.
posted by Beardman at 11:15 AM on April 15, 2010

Orders of protection are not distributed at a federal level, so any situation would depend on the locality. It's much easier in some places than others, whether you're a high school student, a college student, or a regular old adult.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:29 AM on April 15, 2010

depends on your state
posted by radioamy at 11:30 AM on April 15, 2010

FYI: In Missouri, a person has to be at least 17. That is a recent statute change.
posted by psylosyren at 12:39 PM on April 15, 2010

I've also been following Phoebe Prince's story, and I don't know if a restraining order could have helped her had she gotten one. She was still in high school and would most likely pass by one or more of her tormentors in the corridors. (Don't most restraining orders have some limits, such as "Person X cannot come within 500 feet of Person Y"?) Also, a lot of the abuse happened "virtually" on Facebook and via text messages. Even if a restraining order somehow prevented classmates from texting her, they could still text the others in the group who were harassing her and spread more rumors/lies and just add to the agitation. She would feel the freeze-out from other kids as the bullies spread their lies and told them "if you stay friends with Phoebe you'd better watch your back." Honestly, I think the only possible protection in this case would've been for Phoebe to transfer to a different school.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:34 PM on April 15, 2010

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