Attorney Chris Mazzola helps parents and educators recognize warning signs, asks fellow lawyers to volunteer
There’s no question that bullying among teens and even younger children has become a dangerous epidemic in this digital age. In fact, the tragic story of San Antonio teen David Molak sparked a movement in Texas to combat bullying on all fronts: at school, at home, and through legal action.
Molak was just 16 when he died by suicide after terrible online harassment. His family, through David’s Legacy Foundation, has made it their mission to eliminate cyber bullying. One big step forward has been David’s Law (SB 179), which made cyberbullying a misdemeanor criminal offense, mandates intervention from educators, and holds parents of bullies responsible if they don’t intervene when they should. The law also empowers courts to unmask those who anonymously bully online.
The team at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund has partnered with David’s Legacy Foundation to spread awareness about the community-wide effort to stop bullying. “Cyber bullying is something that as parents we have to deal with on a daily basis,” says firm attorney Chris Mazzola, who recently appeared on “Daytime with Kimberly & Esteban” and “San Antonio Living” to raise awareness of the issue. “Ketterman Rowland & Westlund is really excited to partner with David’s Legacy Foundation to learn how we can combat these issues.”
Mazzola shared some of the warning signs that parents and teachers may notice when a child is being bullied. He urged educators and families to look out for:
- Changes in a child’s grades and performance at school
- Resistance to going to school
- Very protective behavior over phone, online content or other electronic devices
- More anxious, hesitant, fearful, timid, embarrassed or insecure
- Increased reclusiveness
“We can prepare children for how to deal with it. We can educate parents on how to notice the signs and how they can handle it, and we can educate the educators on how to handle it at the school level,” he says.
As a lawyer, Mazzola noted that there are legal steps that can be taken to stop bullying, and volunteers are needed at David’s Legacy Foundation. “We are looking for lawyers who want to take these cases on a pro bono level. We need attorneys who can volunteer their time to give back to the community, who have a passion for advocacy.”
Legal help typically comes in the form of a cease and desist letter or an injunction to put a stop to the bullying.
An Ongoing Commitment to the Community
The partnership with David’s Legacy Foundation is an important part of Ketterman Rowland & Westlund’s broader effort to give back to the San Antonio community. The law firm has also sponsored families for Thanksgiving, led a book drive for the children’s area in the courthouse, and spearheaded a toy drive for the YMCA.
“As personal injury lawyers, we have taken the initiative to get involved in the community because we feel that it is our obligation to do so. The community does so much for us, and we should seize on the opportunity to give back,” Mazzola says.
About Ketterman Rowland & Westlund
Ketterman Rowland & Westlund is a widely recognized San Antonio personal injury law firm that is committed to fighting for the rights of individuals and families in the community.
Douglas D. Ketterman is the originator and founder of Ketterman, Rowland & Westlund where he currently serves as President and Managing Shareholder. Douglas has extensive experience in handling all types of civil litigation. He graduated with honors from St. Mary’s School of Law in 1989 and has been Board Certified as a Specialist in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1998 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.