What Can I Do If Someone Threatens Me or My Child?

By Alissa Kinney
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If you feel that you or your child has been threatened, there are number of different legal and strategic avenues you can take. First, you must rationally determine with an officer of the law whether the threat leveled against you or your child warrants legal action. If this is not the case, you can still take steps so that you and/or your child can avoid situations in which you may feel uncomfortable, such as schoolyard bullies that your son or daughter may encounter.

Strategies for Combating Violent Threats

If the threats being leveled against you and or your child may possibly turn violent, this is a serious situation that should involve authorities. Contact local law enforcement, report the threat and get information on obtaining a restraining order. This process varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but usually involves going to a courthouse to file a claim for the order; a judge will then review your claim as soon as possible. If you feel that you are in imminent danger, a judge can authorize an ex parte restraining order, which will go into effect immediately. The restraining order should bar the offender from communicating with, or from coming within a certain distance of, you as the complainant. If the offender does not follow the terms of the restraining order, you should ask authorities to step in and provide you with legal protection as soon as possible.

If you or your child has witnessed a crime and been threatened because of your cooperation with the authorities, you should immediately contact the victim or witness protection services associated with the court or police district you are working with.

Strategies for Combating Child Bullying

Childhood bullies can cause their targets significant feelings of anxiety and fear. If your child is being bullied, there are ways that you can help. First, listen to your child. Tell him that it is important that you understand what is going on, and you need him to tell you what he is experiencing and how he is feeling. Affirm your child's feelings by repeating what he has said back to you—this will help him feel that you understand and will be able to offer real solutions for the problem. If the bully has not physically harmed or threatened your child, the best advice you can give him is to ignore his tormentor. Without the reaction they are looking for, bullies often get discouraged from focusing on a certain target and move on to someone else who will give the reaction, such as fear or embarrassment, that they seek.

If your child seems fearful for his or her physical safety, or if the bullying persists, despite your child's attempts to thwart it, you should request a meeting with your child's teacher and a school administrator. The school should be made aware of the problem so that they can make the environment at school one where all kids can feel safe.

About the Author

Alissa Kinney is a full-time professional in the communications field, with an AB from Brown University and an MA in Writing & Publishing from Emerson College. She has years of experience as an editor and writer, and has been published in The Blue Doors, Our Town Brookline, Art New England and Body + Soul.