Some teens use restraining orders to protect against bullying

Some teens use restraining orders to protect against bullying

DEXTER, MO (AP) - Two families in the St. Louis area felt they had exhausted all their options when it came to their kids and bullying. So they turned to the court.

Restraining orders may be the next step for students dealing with dangerous classmates.

Orders of protection are more common in cases of domestic violence, but the stalking offense applies to bullies, as well.

Which is why some people are taking that route to protect their kids; whether the harassment takes place on school property or through social media.

"These bullying situations are very serious, have drastic consequences on children's self-esteem and in fact their safety and well being at times," said Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russell Oliver.

Oliver said he hasn't seen this type of case locally, but that he's not surprised they're happening.

"So I would think most parents would take every opportunity that was available to them," he said.

For two Missouri teens, that meant legal action.

Within the past year, at least two high school girls have been granted restraining orders against bullies.

"If I felt like my child was not safe and the only other recourse I could take was to get a restraining order I would do it without hesitation," said anti-bullying activist Susan Guess.

Guess said a parent's first responsibility is to keep their kids safe.

But before heading to a courtroom, she suggested contacting school officials.

"Well I do think it's important for parents to work with the schools," she said. "Often I talk to parents and I'll say 'what did the school say when you reached out to them?' And I think often we don't give the school the opportunity to help us and to help our child and that is the best solution."

Unfortunately, the best solution doesn't always work.

Oliver says there are other options as well.

"I would encourage people to seek out the juvenile authorities before going the route of orders of protection because there are so many more resources available to really remedy the problem."

Oliver adds a bully may simply change their target, but not their behavior, if a court order is in place.

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