An example of legal advice : How Alena* (11) can continue at her school

2 June 2022

How do we support children, youth and their caregivers in challenging situations? As part of our series of posts on legal advice , we examine the specific case of a girl facing disciplinary action at school.

Not only children and youth but their caregivers as well are able to contact us directly at to receive legal support. Our expert legal advisors advise and assist them in safeguarding their rights. 

Alena, whose situation is described below, is one of those who have been able to take advantage of our advisory services to obtain crucial support.


Problems at school

The 11-year-old fifth-grade student attended a primary school serving a cluster of communities in a major city. Forced to endure continual harassment, she was usually able to put up with it. Towards the end of the academic year, however, yet another shove from a classmate proved to be the last straw for her. Defending herself, Alena attacked the girl physically. Although no one at school spoke to her subsequently about the incident, its school director  apparently regarded it as serious: her parents were surprised to receive a letter informing them that they were considering expelling Alena from her school and transferring her to an institution. The parents were invited to meet with school officials to discuss the matter


Lack of understanding regarding the incident

The parents promptly spoke to Alena, who once again felt victimised: first by being bullied and now by being threatened with expulsion. She felt misunderstood and prejudged. The parents too were at a loss. The family contacted the Ombuds Office for Children’s Rights.


Our legal advice

The Ombuds Office for Children’s Rights provided the family with an explanation of their daughter’s rights and the substance of education law, which specifies that a child involved in an incident must be personally questioned about it and allowed to present its own side of the story. In any consideration of disciplinary measures, the priorities established under education  law must be observed.  As a result of this information and legal advice, Alena was given the chance to speak, confidently presenting her own views during the meeting. Consequently, the school director  became aware of the harassment and revoked the disciplinary measure. Alena was able to finish her final primary year at the school before moving up to the next level. The topic of harassment was discussed in class, and steps were taken to protect Alena.


Application of children’s rights

In this example, several of Alena’s rights were violated: the right to information, the right to be heard and to express her own views, and the right to psychological and physical protection. It was very important for Alena to become aware that the conduct of the school director  and her classmates was legally unacceptable. She was successful in not only defending herself but also receiving support. In this way, she achieved self-efficacy, which in turn improved her self-concept. What began as a negative experience ultimately turned into a positive one.

In the process of advising children and youth, we are constantly reminded of the importance of active listening and child-friendly  dialogue. These skills are essential to us as experts if we are to achieve an accurate understanding of the child’s life situation and provide the necessary support and legal advice .


*All names and descriptions have been changed to protect participants’ individual rights and privacy.