PDA

View Full Version : Bullying/Assault Case



KimJo
12-05-2013, 11:46 PM
I've left a couple of messages at my county's DA's office, but since I'm having trouble getting anyone there to return my calls, I thought I would turn here to see if anyone can help me out...

In one of my YA novels (which is already published, so I can't change these details) the main character has been bullied at school, and the school has been, um, not exactly effective in dealing with it. The bullying culminates in two boys catching up with my MC on his way to school and beating him up so badly he ends up in the hospital.

As written, the police are called, the bullies are arrested and are put under a restraining order to stay away from my MC--leading to a lot of scrambling on the school's part to keep them away from him--and the MC and his mother receive a call from a prosecutor saying the case will go to court. The bullies are 16 and 17 years old; my MC is 16.

I deliberately left it vague in that novel as to the aftermath of all that, because I know in real life things don't always proceed quickly and because in my authorial brain, hearing that the case would go to court was at least some closure.

But... My publisher and several readers have requested a sequel. Although the original MC is *not* the MC of the sequel, he's the boyfriend of the sequel's MC (did that make sense?) The sequel starts about two weeks after the assault. And so now I need to know...

First, I'm assuming in a case like this, despite MC1 being beaten up so badly he was taken to hospital, the two bullies would be tried as juveniles?

Second, how would something like this proceed? Would it be realistic for MC1 to have to testify against the bullies? Would they have the option, since it's the first offense for both, to take a plea bargain for community service or something like that?

The books take place in Massachusetts.

Russell Secord
12-06-2013, 04:46 AM
I am not a lawyer, particularly in Massachusetts, so caveat lector.

Any defendant under 17 would be tried as a juvenile except in extraordinary circumstances (e.g. murder). In most states it's 18, in MA it was 17, until last September that is. The prosecutor would have to make a motion to try the younger as an adult, there'd be a hearing, and a judge would rule on the motion.

If I were the victim's lawyer, I would try to avoid putting him on the stand. After only two weeks, he'd still be in the hospital, wouldn't he? or does the trial take place later? Either way, a statement by the victim could be put in the record, in which he identifies the defendants by name.

If convicted, the older defendant might go to jail, and he would have a criminal record. The younger would most likely spend time in juvenile detention (what used to be called "reform school"), and he could have his record sealed after three years, assuming he wasn't arrested again. I don't see how anyone could get community service for a violent crime. Both would have their fingerprints taken upon arrest, and those prints would remain in the system.

jclarkdawe
12-06-2013, 06:26 AM
What do you want to happen/what does the story need? We can tell you how to make it work.

That's a lot easier then trying to deal with all the possibilities.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

KimJo
12-06-2013, 07:27 PM
The problem is I don't know what the possibilities ARE. And I apologize if this sounds flippant, but the story needs accuracy and a realistic outcome; the publisher isn't going to accept "Well, this is what I felt like writing" if it's out of whack with the way things would be in real life. I have no working knowledge at all of the legal system; my only dealings with it have been my divorce and subsequent custody battles, which are a completely different kettle of fish.

The one thing I do believe is that since these two boys have no previous record, they would not serve time; they would be put on probation and maybe have a community service sentence. Right now, to make life a hell of a lot easier for myself writing the thing, I'm inclined to say the boys are offered a deal for a certain amount of probation/community service time, and take the deal, thereby avoiding a trial altogether.

MC1 is not *kept* in the hospital in the first book, by the way... he's taken by ambulance and is treated in the emergency room for a mild concussion and facial cuts and bruises, and is sent home the same day. (And because he's a stubborn ass, he goes to school the next day, AMA and against mom's advice too.)

jclarkdawe
12-06-2013, 08:06 PM
The problem is I can set this up for them walking away to decades of prison.

But taking your hint on what you want to see, let's work from there.

Two bullies get arrested, processed as juveniles, and realized to parents custody. Parents, especially dads, are bullshit. Good natured ribbing is one thing, beating up a weany is not. Getting arrested is even further not cool. Dads are friends and work somewhat the same job, either low management or skilled blue collar. Some money, some smarts.

Parents decide to use the same attorney to save money. There are some ethical difficulties for the attorney, but it can be worked around. Attorney suggests putting the kids in counseling immediately. Also into a drug/alcohol out-patient program (you don't say, but I'm guessing there's some alcohol consumption here). Counselor finds a good place for them to volunteer. I'm thinking a good kitchen where they can go before school (like 5 AM) to work, and then some more after school.

First thing you put together is the bullies rehabilitation/punishment package. You want to convey that these kids have learned their lesson, that their parents are responsible, and that leaving them with their parents is going to be much worse then prison.

Once you've got that in place, you approach the victim. If the kids are in the same school, the victim will be hearing about their rehabilitation. You then ask the victim what they want. If the victim wants the bullies to get up in front of the school and apologize, that's what you do. And you never minimize. If the victim wants ten jumps, you do twelve.

Then you go to the prosecutor. Offer a plea of true to the juvenile petitions and continue the case for six months for sentencing. The six months gives you time to proof that changes have happened. The seventeen year old would agree to extended jurisdiction by the juvenile court.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Cath
12-06-2013, 08:10 PM
KimJo, I don't think Jim was suggesting you use anything inaccurate. He wanted to understand what you need the story to do to offer a believable scenario.

KimJo
12-07-2013, 12:16 AM
Cath, no, I didn't think that was what he meant. I was struggling with trying to reconcile his question about what I want/what the story needs with my complete lack of knowledge on what might be legally possible.

Jim, thanks for the suggestions. No, no alcohol consumption. The two boys assault MC1 as he's walking to school on a weekday morning. The boys are popular football stars in town; MC1 is a gay boy who wears nail polish and feminine clothing, and their reason for assaulting him is pretty much because he's there and because he calls one of them a latent queer. The rest is very helpful suggestions, which I appreciate.

Given that I seem to have dug a hole by asking a question here, let's just close the thread so I can wander away, please?

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 12:43 AM
You haven't dug a hole with me, and probably not with Cath either. We're just trying to shorten the process by knowing what you're looking for. Books have been written about this subject and we want to get you focused on exactly what you need rather then writing the book.

So feel free to ask specific questions.

I'm finding it unlikely they wouldn't have been drinking. Usually these types of incidences escalate out of control because of the addition of liquid courage. You need something that pushes this from everyday crap into an actual attack. The status quo is been going on for a while, what changes to cause the attack?

Adding alcohol to the mix gives you, the writer, something to hang this on. It gives a defense attorney something to hang his solution on. To a certain level, it's bull shit, but it's bull shit I can sell a prosecutor. And I can use it to hammer my client without really hammering him.

And having to give up football is going to be a significant consequence, including limiting their ability to get a scholarship. But by giving it up before they get thrown off the team (they're going to get thrown off the team) is pro-active and looks good.

The idea for avoiding jail/juvie/prison is to make it seem like avoiding it is worse then the actual result and will get the same result. High school stars giving up their position is a big deal, and significant.

I'm fine with this thread continuing and you asking more questions.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

KimJo
12-07-2013, 12:56 AM
Thanks, Jim. I apologize for any negative tone; I'm really wrestling with this story on many levels and am feeling frustrated with trying to pull it together, and I need to think more clearly before I type. I'm gonna try to explain better, because for a writer, I seem to have done a poor job of thinking this through before I posted.

The assault happens in a novel I've already had published. In that novel, the boys assault MC1 on his way to school. It's 7 in the morning, and they are stone cold sober.

They've already been bullying him extensively for months, if not years. The morning of the assault, it starts with name-calling and a bit of shoving. The actual beat-down happens when MC1 calls one of the bullies a "latent queer." (The boy who does the actual beating has been shown earlier in the book to react very strongly to any question/comment about his sexuality.)

The other boy involved doesn't participating in the beating, and begs his buddy to stop. However, because he's involved in the pushing around and doesn't actually *try* to stop the assault, and because he's been bullying MC1 in the past, he's also in trouble.

In that novel, the boys are arrested. They are charged with assault. They are placed under a restraining order. Although the assault did not occur on school grounds, they are suspended from school for a few days and are permanently kicked off the football team.

A prosecutor contacts MC1 and his mother and informs them that the case will be prosecuted. That's where that book ended, which didn't please the publisher and readers...

The book I'm currently working on, the one for which I need the information about legal repercussions, is not *about* the bullying/assault case, per se. The book is about Guillermo, the boyfriend of MC1, and his fears that his family and friends will find out that he *is* MC1's boyfriend.

But MC1's story--by request of the publisher--has to continue in this book because they want me to provide closure for it. It can be as simple as Guillermo asking MC1 what's going on with the court case and MC1 saying, "Well, they took a deal for probation and community service, so I guess I don't have to go to court, but it sucks that I'm still giong to have to see them around town, at least they're still under that restraining order." But I have to show the effect it's having on MC1 and provide a definite conclusion to the situation, so I wanted to find out in the real-world legal system, what conclusion(s) would be likely or possible.

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 08:55 AM
Thanks, Jim. I apologize for any negative tone; I'm really wrestling with this story on many levels and am feeling frustrated with trying to pull it together, and I need to think more clearly before I type. I'm gonna try to explain better, because for a writer, I seem to have done a poor job of thinking this through before I posted. I realize this is hard. Think of this like going to the doctor and saying you hurt. You play questions and answers until you get to the answer.

The assault happens in a novel I've already had published. In that novel, the boys assault MC1 on his way to school. It's 7 in the morning, and they are stone cold sober. I keep forgetting that you have a lot of this already committed. But this is the stuff I need to know before I go down wasted alleys. It would help to know what pushes the two boys this particular morning. Or maybe what causes MC1 to push back. Something happened that day that hadn't happened before.

They've already been bullying him extensively for months, if not years. The morning of the assault, it starts with name-calling and a bit of shoving. The actual beat-down happens when MC1 calls one of the bullies a "latent queer." (The boy who does the actual beating has been shown earlier in the book to react very strongly to any question/comment about his sexuality.) I'm hoping the older boy is the beater. That makes it a lot easier to go from here, and better for you, but I understand you're stuck with whatever you wrote.

The other boy involved doesn't participating in the beating, and begs his buddy to stop. However, because he's involved in the pushing around and doesn't actually *try* to stop the assault, and because he's been bullying MC1 in the past, he's also in trouble. Legally this is accurate. But understand the implications this is going to have in the school. All the details will be known quickly. Bad bully is going to spread the word that good bully is a wimp. On the other hand, some of the other kids are going to give good bully some support.

In that novel, the boys are arrested. The 16 year old is detained as a juvenile. The older boy is arrested. They are charged with assault. The older boy is charged with assault, bullying, and potentially a couple of other charges. The younger boy is given a juvenile petition alleging deliquency through committing an assault. They are placed under a restraining order. No. The older boy is released on bail, with bail conditions that forbid contact. The younger boy is released with the custody of his parent(s), with conditions for that release. Although the assault did not occur on school grounds, they are suspended from school for a few days and are permanently kicked off the football team. The school can only suspend if the assault occurred on school grounds, or a bus stop. I realize you've got to live with what you've got, but I just want to clarify this for you.

A prosecutor contacts MC1 and his mother and informs them that the case will be prosecuted. That's where that book ended, which didn't please the publisher and readers... Okay, we've got a prosecutor who is going to be gung-ho, and a case with publicity. This is going to make it difficult to avoid jail/juvenile detention.

The book I'm currently working on, the one for which I need the information about legal repercussions, is not *about* the bullying/assault case, per se. The book is about Guillermo, the boyfriend of MC1, and his fears that his family and friends will find out that he *is* MC1's boyfriend. I realized this was sort of a subplot.

But MC1's story--by request of the publisher--has to continue in this book because they want me to provide closure for it. It can be as simple as Guillermo asking MC1 what's going on with the court case and MC1 saying, "Well, they took a deal for probation and community service, so I guess I don't have to go to court, but it sucks that I'm still giong to have to see them around town, at least they're still under that restraining order." But I have to show the effect it's having on MC1 and provide a definite conclusion to the situation, so I wanted to find out in the real-world legal system, what conclusion(s) would be likely or possible.

Especially if the good bully is the younger boy, community service and probation until he turns 17 works easily, and would be a good plea, as the prosecutor can charge him as an adult.

But I'd suggest a serious change for the bad bully. Your readers are going to want some blood in revenge, so let's give them some blood. When he can't get it up with his girlfriend, she, not being the soul of tact, tells him he must be a queer, just like MC1 said. He beats the crap out of her for her honesty. When one of his ex-football teammates calls him queer, he beats the shit out of him.

And when he discovers that good bully is going to take a plea and testify against bad bully, bad bully beats the absolute snot out of good bully and good bully ends up in the hospital. Bad bully ends up in country jail. (Tell me the town and I'll tell you the country jail.) Bad bully cops to some time in Cedar Junction, aka Walpole.

If MC1 is reluctant to testify, that's going to be a limitation on the prosecutor. If the prosecutor is thinking of riding this case to political gain, that could make the prosecutor pushy about MC1 testifying.

As I said, I think your readers are going to want the bullies to bleed. This accomplishes it without MC1's involvement that much. And with a prosecutor promising prosecution, it's a result the prosecutor can use in future political campaigns.

Once you put together an outline of where the bullies are going, I'd suggest showing it to your publisher.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

KimJo
12-07-2013, 07:41 PM
Thanks, Jim.

That morning really isn't any different. The bullies have been pushing MC1 around (mostly verbally, sometimes physically) in school all along. The day before, "bad bully" was given detention for shoving MC1 into a door in the school hallway, so he's already pissed at MC1. Walking down the sidewalk, MC1 is looking at his cell phone and doesn't see the boys in front of him; he walks smack into "bad bully," and the two bullies start shoving him.

Every time they've hassled him, MC1 has mouthed off to them. But as I said, "bad bully" is already pissed about getting detention the day before, which also caused him to be suspended from football practice. MC1 has just about had it with the bullying and the school's responses, which to him are not enough consequence and which always include something along the lines of, "Well, they shouldn't be bullying you, but if you didn't dress this way they'd leave you alone."

There's no one else around, so MC1 is in full-blown panic mode because he isn't sure he'll be able to get away from the bullies. Panic = anger for him, so he tries to fight back by mouthing off, which is his usual defense. (He won't *physically* fight back because he knows that first, he'd get pounded, and second, that would make him equally responsible.) "Bad bully" is already on the verge of going off, and the "latent queer" comment is the last straw.

In the first (published) novel, it states that both bullies are arrested. I understand the legal distinction, and can hand-wave the inaccuracy under the fact that that novel is narrated by the 16-year-old victim, who would most likely not know the legal distinction. To him, if the police come and take you away, you've been arrested. Ditto with the "restraining order", which would be a term MC1 would be familiar with. (At the moment, I can't remember for sure whether he says in book 1 that the boys are under a "restraining order" or a "court order." Though I was also going by a situation at the real-life high school in which this takes place, when my daughter's guidance counselor told me that due to a case of bullying, one student was under a "restraining order" to stay away from another.)

By the way, the 16-year-old was the one who actually committed the assault.

The school suspends the bullies-- again, one of the details I can't change. However, there's precedent in that in two high schools where I taught in Maine, students were suspended for fights off school grounds based on the fact that the students who were fighting had *started* the conflict at school and it had carried over. In terms of the novel, I would say probably the *official* reason for the suspensions is the bullying which had occurred *on* school grounds prior to the fight. Getting kicked off the football team is explained in the novel as a school rule which states anyone with a police record or under police investigation cannot participate in extracurricular activities.

So again, "bad bully" is the 16-year-old; "good bully" is the 17-year-old. Anger management issues, complete rage when his sexuality is called into question. Feels entitled to go off on people if they piss him off. "Good bully" is a follower; he does what his friends do. He didn't care that MC1 was getting beaten up until he realized that MC1 was practically unconscious, and then he begged his friend to stop "or you're going to kill him." He was more worried about the trouble he and "bad bully" would get into than he was about MC1. (Which means your suggestion of him taking a plea and turning on "bad bully" would be right in character.)

You've given me a lot of helpful information, and I greatly appreciate it. I'll be printing out this thread for future reference!

I also appreciate the suggestions about where the story might go. Although I agree with you that readers are going to want to see justice done, I'm not sure that will fit the tone set in the first book; part of the plot (and one of the aspects that's been most praised by reviewers) is that bullies *don't* always face strong consequences, and their victims *don't* always see any type of justice. Kids who are bullied are always told "Stand up to the bullies and they'll leave you alone," but when MC1 stands up to his bullies, he's just bullied even more severely. Kids are told "Tell an adult," but when MC1 reports the bullying to his school, he's told, "They say they didn't do it, and there are more of them than you, so we have to believe them" or "They would leave you alone if you just didn't dress like that."

And unfortunately, that's the way it often is in real life... I've based those things on my own experiences having been bullied, on my experiences as a high school teacher, and on my daughters' experiences in public schools.

That said, though, the prospect of "bad bully" going off the deep end really does fit his character, and I think you may have given me a key to Guillermo's story that I wasn't quite finding, so huge thank you for that!

(and yeah, this post definitely fits tl/dr....)

Amadan
12-07-2013, 08:06 PM
The school can only suspend if the assault occurred on school grounds, or a bus stop. I realize you've got to live with what you've got, but I just want to clarify this for you.

Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure I've seen cases of schools suspending students for off-school-grounds behavior. They cause a lot of controversy because people tend to think the school should have no jurisdiction over students when they are not at school (I agree), but some schools have certainly taken the position that they do.

KimJo, I know this isn't very helpful now since you've already written it, but I agree with Jim that I'd be skeptical about a couple of kids beating another kid badly enough to send him to the hospital unless there was either alcohol or drugs pushing them over the edge, or some really serious intent to inflict major injuries (which would make the prosecutor more likely to seek blood).

KimJo
12-07-2013, 08:21 PM
Amadan, yeah, as I said in my tl post, two schools where I worked in Maine suspended students because of off-school-grounds fights.

I do understand the skepticism, but as I said, this fight was months in the making. There had been constant conflict between MC1 and the bullies in school, and the day before, the bully who actually did the beating was given detention and suspended from football practice because he was caught pushing MC1 around. (He blamed MC1 even though MC1 didn't report him; a teacher witnessed it.) And for that bully, any type of "you're gay" comment is a massive trigger, so when MC1 called him a latent queer it pushed him over the edge.

I've worked in high schools, have two teenagers, and have spoken with many more. Even though to adults it may seem unreasonable or unrealistic, to a teenage boy "Hey, you're queer" *can* be grounds to beat the snot out of someone, especially if that boy has already shown anger management issues and has always reacted strongly to any question about his sexuality. (A friend of mine, when I mentioned this discussion to him, said, "Yeah, when I was in high school, a friend of mine called another boy "gay" in the locker room, and the ohter boy tried to put my friend's head through the wall.") The beating sent MC1 to the hospital mainly because of head injuries; he was knocked onto a concrete sidewalk and the bully slammed his head into the sidewalk.

KimJo
12-07-2013, 08:26 PM
And all that said... I can see "bad bully's" defense claiming he "snapped" and lost control because MC1 instigated him by using a gay slur, so "bad bully" wasn't entirely responsible for his actions because he was in a rage. Is that realistic/possible, and what is the legal term for that type of defense if there is one?

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 08:31 PM
Your triggering event is the suspension from the football team. Even more so, I think the bad bully is going to go over the edge after being permanently suspended from the football team. He's going to get a lot of ribbing from the other kids in high school and I don't think he's going to be able to handle it.

And it seems like you want the Steubenville, Ohio experience. We can make that happen.

You've got a gung-ho prosecutor who has promised to prosecute. So as a first step, he gets the young bad bully certified as an adult.

Then the prosecutor is up for re-election in November. (I'm hoping this works with your timing, but if not, I'll give you the work-around.) His opponent starts hammering about how the prosecutor has screwed the football team and now they're losing, merely as a result of boys being boys. The gung-ho prosecutor gets voted out of office. If you can't make the election work, the prosecutor gets appointed a judge and leaves the unambitious successor.

Unambitious prosecutor and a lot of the drive for the case goes away. And in the meantime, bad bully is going seriously off track, and can be disposed of in a package deal.

It's hard to suspend kids for conduct off school grounds. Some schools have a behavior policy that the students agree to and that give schools a longer reach.

I've used arrested to describe a juvenile detention, but you should know the right answer and know when to break the rule. Restraining orders are a complicated subject and once you go beyond family members, become iffy. But the bail/release orders would cover the situation.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

jclarkdawe
12-07-2013, 08:36 PM
And all that said... I can see "bad bully's" defense claiming he "snapped" and lost control because MC1 instigated him by using a gay slur, so "bad bully" wasn't entirely responsible for his actions because he was in a rage. Is that realistic/possible, and what is the legal term for that type of defense if there is one?

It's a legal argument to reduce the mens rea or state of mind requirement. For example, it would argue against first degree murder and reduce it down to second degree. It doesn't really help the legal defense here, although the kid might be spouting it.

I wanted the inciting factor so I could know what way your character was most likely to behave, and what options were out there. If someone acts because of alcohol, getting rid of the alcohol can remove the trigger. Rage just because of insults is a lot harder to control and a lot harder to figure out options. You can send this kid to anger management therapy, but it probably is going to be unsuccessful.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Rick Archer
12-07-2013, 11:39 PM
I'm in Texas. First, the school be culpable for not addressing the bullying issue effectively. Second, the two who assaulted your MC would be placed in the district disciplinary alternative school or a juvenile justice system setting or boot camp, where they would also receive schooling. They would certainly have a probation officer and have to give monetary restitution for medical expenses of your MC. Finally, a 16 year old can be tried as adult in many situations depending on the severity of the incident. It depends on the DA as to what charges are filled. Hope this helps.

KimJo
12-08-2013, 06:01 AM
Thanks, Jim. Yeah, I agree that being suspended from the football team permanently would probably push this guy over the edge. I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say I "want the Steubenville experience." Would you clarify, please?

The assault occurs in mid or late October (MC1 refers to Halloween coming right up; I need to check the book again to remember how far away Halloween is.) So the timing could work.

As for the school's bit, I'm leaning toward going with the suspension officially being because of the bullying that had occurred *on* school grounds--a belated consequence on the school's part, trying to cover their ass.

Rick, thanks for your input. As I said in my initial post, the story takes place in Massachusetts, but at least some of what you've said would be applicable in the situation.

The restitution is a good point... could the court order the bullies and/or their families to pay the victim's medical bills (the part that isn't covered by insurance)?

jclarkdawe
12-08-2013, 06:17 AM
Yes, the boys would have to pay restitution, but how collectable it will be is doubtful. And it is only for the uninsured portion. If the insurance company wants to collect, they have to file a civil suit.

Here's the wikipedia article on Steubenville -- Steubenville High School rape case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steubenville_High_School_rape_case). Basically involved in minimizing the case and hoping it would go away. You can also look at the Penn State case for seeing a school trying to minimize problems. Also look at Suicide of Phoebe Prince (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FSuicide _of_Phoebe_Prince&ei=Q9ajUpnrCo_JsQSm24LIDA&usg=AFQjCNHtJpq8X-RLZHRBYiFwFTLM7bpKjw&sig2=4k4EzkE-sDXb18Doex2cbw&bvm=bv.57752919,d.cWc). Especially important for you as it is an actual Massachusetts case.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

KimJo
12-08-2013, 06:20 AM
Thanks. I knew what happened in Steubenville; I just wasn't sure what you were referring to in relation to my story.

I remember when the Phoebe Prince suicide happened, and the state's and local schools' response. It was such a horrible thing.

jclarkdawe
12-08-2013, 06:34 AM
Steubenville shows a botched investigation and prosecution. Until the State's attorney general came into the case, and an out-of-town judge, the prosecution was going nowhere fast. Given the apparent choice of the Steubenville authorities, if there had been no court case they would have been happy.

Prince's case is sort of a muddled prosecution where no one quite seemed to know what to do. You have boys will be boys versus a suicide. And how do you make that right? What do you do to make everybody happy? Or even anyone happy.

Prince was a case with no good answers, but everybody trying. Steubenville was a case with clear answers, that the local authorities didn't want to deal with. I think you might be hoping for something in between the two.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

KimJo
12-08-2013, 07:45 PM
Prosecuting bullying cases, I think, or even responding on a school level, has become problematic because even though teens--and younger children--are taking their own lives because of bullying, it's still very much seen as "Kids will be kids; man/woman up and get over it." And, as in the novel I've had published, there tends to be a lot of victim-blaming. (Again, this is based on my personal experiences as a public school teacher, and on my daughters' experiences as public school students.)

So yeah... I'm looking for a realistic legal consequence for the bullies who beat up MC1, but that addresses the fact that a lot of the time, bullying victims don't get what *they* perceive as justice.

So to me, both bullies getting probation, being ordered to stay away from MC1, and "bad bully" being ordered into anger management therapy would feel like a realistic outcome. (And then bad bully escalates, which becomes one of the conflicts of the sequel I'm working on...)