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Anti-bullying legislation

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Title: Anti-bullying legislation  
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Subject: School bullying, Bullying, LGBT rights in Hawaii, LGBT rights in Massachusetts, Andy Hickson
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Anti-bullying legislation

Anti-bullying legislation is legislation enacted nationally or by a sub-national jurisdiction to help reduce and end bullying against students.


The provincial government of Quebec initiated legislation providing for anti-bullying laws, with the Quebec law having come into effect in 2004.[1] Federal politicians also debated the groundwork for a national anti-bullying strategy the same year.[2]


The Republic Act 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on September 6, 2013. The law requires all elementary and secondary schools in the country to adopt an anti-bullying policy. According to a study conducted on 2008 by the Britain-based Plan International, 50 percent of school children in the Philippines experienced bullying either by their teachers or their peers.[3][4]

United States


Forty-nine states in the [5]

North Dakota's legislature passed and Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a bill into law April 22, 2011, which defines bullying in state law and outlines prevention policies for North Dakota public schools. North Dakota has been praised for their new law. Prior to its passage, North Dakota has passed an anti-bullying legislation.

Georgia's anti-bullying legislation was strengthened in 2010 with the passage of Senate Bill 250, which included a provision allowing for those accused of bullying another student to be reassigned to another school in order to separate the offender from the victim of bullying;[6]

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act is part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It provides federal support to promote school safety but does not specifically address bullying and harassment in schools. There are no federal laws dealing directly with school bullying;[7] however, bullying may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.[8]

Starting in September 2011, the State of New Jersey will enforce the toughest bullying law in the country. Each school will have to report each case of bullying to the State, and the State will grade each school based on bullying standards, policies, and incidents. Each school must have an effective plan to deal with bullying. All school administrators and teachers are required to deal with any incidents of bullying reported to them or witnessed by them. Teachers must report any bullying incidents they witness to the administrators. Bullies risk suspensions to expulsions if convicted of any type of bullying; from minor teasing to severe cases.

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley has stated "bullying is no more a natural part of learning than is parental abuse a natural part of growing up" and has been a consistent advocate of anti-bullying legislation.[9]


The National School Safety and Security Services questions the motive behind some anti-bullying legislation. The line between “feel-good legislation” and “meaningful legislation” is not clear at the moment and The National School Safety and Security Services suggests “unfunded state mandates and an overemphasis on any one component of school safety will likely have minimal impact on school safety and could potentially upset the comprehensive approach to school safe recommended by most school safety professionals” [10]

According to National Safety and Securities Services “Anti-bullying legislation, typically an unfunded mandate requiring schools to have anti-bullying policies but providing no financial resources to improve school climate and security, offer more political hype than substance for helping school administrators address the problem. [10]

Gail Garinger, Child Advocate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, advises legislators not to push new legislation each time the media highlights a new bullying incident, saying, "Maybe a new law is needed in your state to deal with a situation, but don’t rush to do it. Sit down. Really talk about what happened." She adds, "I think school officials have gotten really frightened because of what’s been occurring, and it’s much easier to take a zero-tolerance approach and just label everything quickly as bullying and pass it on to someone else to deal with, rather than try to work out a creative solution within the school that’s best for everyone involved."[11]

LGBTQ bullying

Some states of the United States have implemented laws to address school bullying.
  State law that prohibits discrimination against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  State law that prohibits discrimination against students based on sexual orientation only
  State law that prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  State school regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  State school regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation only

  School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation only and also state law forbids school-based instruction of LGBT rights & issues in a positive manner
  State law that forbids school-based instruction of LGBT rights & issues in a positive manner
  State law that forbids local school districts from having anti-bullying policies that enumerate protected classes of students

  State law that prohibits bullying in school but lists no categories of protection
  No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools

Anti-bullying legislation received national attention after the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi. In the wake of the incident, New Jersey strengthened its anti-bullying legislation by passing a bill called “The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.”[12] Garden State Equality Chairman Steve Goldstein called New Jersey's bill the "toughest" anti-bullying law in the country. The bill states administrators who do not investigate reports of bullying can be disciplined.[13]

Various organizations provide resources and support to The Trevor Project, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, It Gets Better Project, and The Matthew Shepard Foundation.[14]


According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, about 20 percent of children age 11-18 have been victims of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” [15] Cyberbullying occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.[16]

In August 2008, the California State Legislature passed a law directly related with cyber-bullying. The legislation gives school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying others offline or online.[17]

Many states already have existing criminal and civil remedies to deal with cyberbullying; extreme cases would fall under criminal harassment or stalking laws, or targets of such extreme bullying could pursue civil action for intentional infliction of emotional distress or defamation. In the summer of 2011, Public Act 11-232 made significant changes to the state of Connecticut statute which defines bullying as the following: (A) The repeated use by one or more students of a written, oral or electronic communication, such as cyber bullying, directed at or referring to another student attending school in the same school district, or (B) a physical act or gesture by one or more students repeatedly directed at another student attending school in the same school district, that (i) causes physical or emotional harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property, (ii) places such student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property, (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for such student, (iv) infringes on the rights of such student at school, or (v)substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school

Beyond this, bullying includes, but is not limited to “a written, oral or electronic communication or physical act or gesture based on any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, such as race, color, religion ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance, or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has or is perceived to have one or more of such characteristics." (Connecticut Department of Education)

Effective 1 December 2012, North Carolina has made it a crime for students to bully their teachers. Students can face jail time and/or a $1,000 fine for cyberbullying school employees. Prohibited conduct includes posting a photo of a teacher on the internet, making a fake website, signing a teacher up for junk mail.[18]


United Kingdom

Section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 provides for state schools for 'Determination by head teacher of behavior policy'

(1)The head teacher of a relevant school must determine measures to be taken with a view to—

(a)promoting, among pupils, self-discipline and proper regard for authority,

(b)encouraging good behavior and respect for others on the part of pupils and, in particular, preventing all forms of bullying among pupils,

(c)securing that the standard of behavior of pupils is acceptable,

(d)securing that pupils complete any tasks reasonably assigned to them in connection with their education, and

(e)otherwise regulating the conduct of pupils.

(2)The head teacher must in determining such measures—

(a)act in accordance with the current statement made by the governing body under section 88(2)(a), and

(b)have regard to any notification or guidance given to him under section 88(2)(b).

(3)The standard of behavior which is to be regarded as acceptable must be determined by the head teacher, so far as it is not determined by the governing body.

(4)The measures which the head teacher determines under subsection (1) must include the making of rules and provision for disciplinary penalties (as defined by section 90).

(5)The measures which the head teacher determines under subsection (1) may, to such extent as is reasonable, include measures to be taken with a view to regulating the conduct of pupils at a time when they are not on the premises of the school and are not under the lawful control or charge of a member of the staff of the school.

(6)The measures determined by the head teacher under subsection (1) must be publicised by him in the form of a written document as follows—

(a)he must make the measures generally known within the school and to parents of registered pupils at the school, and

(b)he must in particular, at least once in every school year, take steps to bring them to the attention of all such pupils and parents and all persons who work at the school (whether or not for payment).

See also


  1. ^ In 2012, Ontario and Alberta also implement anti-bullying laws. The Workplace Bullying: A Global Health and Safety Issue Ellen Pinkos Cobb, Esq. Senior Regulatory & Legal Analyst The Isosceles Group Boston, MA United States of America, July 2012
  2. ^ Cuthbertson, Richard (2012-10-16). "Education Act will have strongest anti-bullying legislation in country, minister says". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  3. ^ Flores, Helen (2013-09-18). "Noy signs anti-bullying law | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  4. ^ Flores, Helen M. (2013-09-19). "Anti-Bullying Law enacted | Education and Home, Other STAR Sections, The Philippine Star". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  5. ^ "Bully Police". 
  6. ^ "Bully Police Georgia". 
  7. ^ "Federal Policy". 
  8. ^ Russlynn Ali Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (October 26, 2010). "Letter to a Colleague" (PDF). Letter to a Colleague. United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. Retrieved November 9, 2011. The statutes that [The Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education] enforces include  
  9. ^ "Bullying's Day in Court", USA Today, July 15, 2008
  10. ^ "A Q&A With Child Advocate Judge Gail Garinger About Bullying". 
  11. ^ "New Jersey anti-bullying act". 
  12. ^ "New Jersey anti-bullying act". 
  13. ^ "Stop bullying now". 
  14. ^ "Cyber bullying". 
  15. ^ "What is Cyberbullying". U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  16. ^ Carvin, Andy. "PBS Teachers". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  17. ^ "Kids Take Heed That Funny Drawing of Your Teacher Could Get You Jail Time". 
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