Bullying and cyberbullying are a serious problem for so many kids. As education lawyers, we constantly get calls from parents trying to protect their kids from bullying and cyberbullying. Kids are crying out for help and the problem only seems to be getting worse. Social media and constant advances in technology only make the situation even worse. Bullying and cyberbullying (cyber bullying) may start out as teasing, but this can quickly escalate into threats of physical harm and become stalking or cyberstalking. Parents and schools often try to stop bullying and cyberbullying, but sometimes they just can’t or won’t appropriately intervene.
Fortunately, there is a new law in Connecticut that may help kids who are the victims of bullying and cyberbullying if the conduct raises to the level of stalking. This is because the victims of stalking or cyberstalking can now apply for civil restraining orders, which is called a Civil Protection Order. This is very important because until recently you could only get restraining orders in Connecticut against family members, intimate partners, or roommates who were threatening or stalking you.
Now, you can apply for civil restraining orders basically against anyone in cases where you have been the victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. This also applies to minors (people under 18), which means that minors can apply for civil restraining orders against other minors. With regard to bullying and cyberbullying, a civil restraining order may be available to kids who have been a victim of second-degree stalking as described in the State’s Penal Code (even if the stalker has never been arrested or charged with a crime).
That is because second-degree stalking occurs when a person harasses or threatens or communicates with someone else in a way that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her physical safety or for the physical safety of a third person. That type of behavior or conduct definitely occurs in many cases of bullying or cyberbullying.
When does bullying and cyberbullying raise to the level of stalking?
While each situation will need to be carefully assessed on a case by case basis, bullying and cyberbullying may raise to the level of stalking, if it consists of two or more qualifying acts that are directed at you (such as following you, hiding/waiting to surprise or attack you, monitoring you, observing you, surveilling you, threatening you, harassing you, communicating with you, or interfering with your property) which cause you to fear for your physical safety or for the physical safety of a third person. Please note that general teasing does not raise to the level of stalking. However, teasing in the form of threats and harassment that would make you fear for your physical safety may raise to the level of stalking.
What’s involved in applying for a restraining order?
Applying for a restraining order is a complicated process because it is very fact specific and requires a formal hearing in front of a judge. The court will require an application for relief accompanied by an affidavit, which is a sworn statement to the court. An experienced attorney can help you draft these documents, essentially providing the court with the specific facts of your situation that have caused your concern and need for a restraining order. An experienced restraining order lawyer will know exactly what facts a judge will want to see in the documents.
You can also apply for an ex parte order (an order that will take immediate effect without having a court proceeding involving the stalker) if you feel that you are in imminent danger. The court will then schedule a hearing date when it receives these documents. At the hearing, you will present evidence and documents to the court. You will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and present closing arguments to the judge.
What happens if my application for a restraining order is granted?
If your restraining order is granted, a judge can order that the person who stalked you: Not assault, threaten, abuse, harass, follow, interfere with, or stalk you.
Stay away from your home or wherever you reside. Not contact you in any manner, including by written, electronic or telephone contact, and not contact your home, workplace or others with whom the contact would be likely to cause annoyance or alarm. Stay 100 yards away from you.
Violation of a restraining order is a felony. This means that you can call the police if the respondent violates the order and he or she should be arrested and charged with a felony (a very serious criminal offense).
Contact a Connecticut Restraining Order Lawyer Today
If you are trying to protect your kids from bullying or cyberbullying, we can help. We know the Connecticut school systems and courts, and how to protect children.
Call us Today at 203-286-0053