Suing Fellow Student For Bullying

On this blog, from time to time I provide some commentary on news stories involving bullying.  There was the case of students tormenting a 68-year-old bus monitor:


And another one in which a 12-year-old girl leaped to her death after more than a year of being cyberbullied:

Rebecca Sedwick

And several others as well.

Another Example

This week I want to discuss a story about some parents who are trying a different approach to addressing the bullying problem.  According to a June 18, 2014 story by NBC Chicago, a fourth-grader is suing another fourth grader for bullying him.

Joaquin Del Core

Joaquin Del Core

Contending he has been the victim of bullying which spanned his entire third-grade year, Matthew and Deveri Del Core filed the suit Tuesday on behalf of their son Joaquin, naming a classmate identified only as “C.A.”, along with the boy’s parents, the school district, and Jeffrey Brusso, principal of Robert Frost Elementary.

The lawsuit alleges that Joaquin had been the victim of almost weekly attacks, ranging from hitting, punching, and kicking, to more violent threats.  He would wake up at night screaming and crying, terrified, and did not want to go to school.

Joaquin’s parents filed repeated police reports and met with the school, to no avail. In one of those reports, an investigating officer notes that the alleged assailant’s parent said he had “anger issues.”

“The school said they were taking action and assured us it wouldn’t happen again, and it would just keep happening,” Joaquin’s father said.  “(They would say) ‘Yes, we’ll handle it, rest assured…’ and then it would happen again a week later!”

So far the case is not going too well from the perspective of Joaquin’s parents:

Robert Frost schoolWithin hours of filing the complaint in Cook County Circuit Court, Ms. Del Core said she was fired from her job in the Robert Frost Elementary cafeteria.  A termination letter from the school’s cafeteria contractor, said she was being fired ‘at the request of the client,’ because actions she had taken ‘have been detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of students and staff.’

The family’s attorney, Joel Handler, said he would now amend the complaint, to include a charge of retaliatory discharge against the school, for firing the boy’s mother.  For their part, the parents said they hoped the lawsuit sends a message.

“Kids, all kids, need to be in a safe and healthy environment to learn in, because learning fuels the rest of your life,” Matthew Del Core said.  His wife suggested that the suit might actually help the alleged assailant. “This isn’t just about our son any more,” she said.  “This is about the child that’s been bullying our son, that he gets the help that he needs, and that the school provides it for him.”


In the above example, I am relying solely on the NBC Chicago story.  I have no first-hand knowledge about what has actually taken place.   And of course the story is still unfolding.  But I have no doubt that incidences such as the one I just described occur regularly in our schools.

Bullying stories have been in the news a couple of times this month alone. The Inquisitr, for example, reported on June 21, 2014 that 14-year-old Noel Estevez, who was bullied by the same kid for months, recently snapped and stabbed his tormentor to death.  In that case, witnesses stated that the boy who was stabbed was part of a group that bullied Noel so relentlessly that the eighth-grader even tried suicide, causing him to miss several months of school.
In a previous post, I made several suggestions for schools to address these types of problems.  But what can parents do if they see their child being treated in this awful manner after trying as hard as possible to work effectively with the school and police and the tormenting just continues?
Judging from the comments that have been coming in on the story about Joaquin filing his lawsuit, there is a great deal of support for this type of action.  For example, one person wrote:
Kudos to the family. My child attended a Catholic Jr. High and was subject to similar attacks by classmates. While the school acknowledged the issue, nothing was done until a lawyer friend of mine sent a letter to the school indicating one more occurrence and we would file suit. Low and behold, the administration addressed the matter with suspensions and other disciplinary actions immediately following. Hated to take such extreme measures but my child’s grades hit rock bottom, became extremely withdrawn and no longer wished to socialize with “real” friends. Good luck to the family and hopefully these actions will prevent another child from having to endure the same.
Another wrote:
Good for you – one of the few parents that are willing to ferociously advocate for your child and do what is necessary to protect your child. This happens more frequently than many people realize throughout the country. Brilliant bringing the media into it – now that this story is gaining national attention, perhaps many more parents with children subjected to this type of bullying while the district tries to brush it under the rug will now be willing to step in and confront those in authority who fail miserably in protecting their charges. It happened to my child, also, and I had to do the same thing before our school district caved and took care of the problem after almost two years of discounting/ignoring it.
Please join the discussion by leaving a comment in the reply box below.

Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional and social intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.

Providing Criticism with Shouting, Insults and Threats: Is There a Place for It?
Internet Meanies

About the Author

Jeffrey Rubin grew up in Brooklyn, received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and has taught conflict resolution there as well as at a psychiatric clinic, a correctional facility and a number of public schools. He has published articles on anger and conflict resolution and has authored three novels.


  1. In my opinion, the child who attacked the other student should be expelled, and he and his parents should seek psychiatric therapy. As for the school administration, the individuals who ignored the situation should be terminated and reeducated.

  2. Hi Marv. Much thanks for your comment. I agree with you that some strong action is called for in this type of situation. I want to add to your comment that I have seen kids get expelled and they loved it. They played violent video games all day long, and got into a great deal of trouble in the community. And some forms of psychiatric therapy amounts to the prescribing of psychiatric drugs which sometimes seems to help in the short run, but make matters worse in the long run. Solutions for this type of problem requires a great deal of thought and prolonged action. It is my sincere hope that the post will be part of the process that leads to something positive. I believe that the learning of the skills taught on this blog can be part of the solution.
    My Best.

    • Working in Law enforcment and corrections for over 25 yrs, along with four Universities, et al, and having been bullied as a 12 yr old, I realized that there are multiple approaches to the issue. ONE is education, two is a big stick. Parents are responsible for the torts of their children, albeit most are not help to that standard. During the summer preceeding high school, I put on twenty pounds of muscle with weights and excercise, and learned some karate. When the bullies approached on the FIRST day of Freshman year, we got into a confrontation, and I shamed the leader into a mano-v-mano. He lost. Was eventually sent to “reform school” for pulling a knife on someone on the bus to school.
      RE: kids like being expelled> I taught school for while, in NC, and broe up a fight between two football players. Took them to Principal, I got reprimanded for putting hands on the :kids:, which were bigger than me, and they got three days suspension. Went fishing, etc…There is no ONE solution to this issue, but making the parents aware of their liability can help. Keeping the kids OFF of violent video games and TV, etc can also reduce the inclination. Church/religion can help, but as the person said, “even at a Catholic School{my child was bullied}. It takes a village, We all have some stake in this. 20 years working jails and prisons revealed the complexity of this issue.

      • Hi John D. Mathis Sr.,
        Thanks for your comment. It is great to get the perspective from someone who had been bullied, been involved in law enforcement, corrections, and as an educator.

  3. As the mother of the child mentioned above in the Law suit, I thank all of you for reading this blog, commenting, and supporting anti-bullying laws and causes. Thank you Dr. Rubin for your insight and sharing through this blog.

    • Thanks for your comment, Deveri, and your kind words of support for this blog. I hope you and Matthew are doing well after the sad situation you both had to contend with.

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