Anti-Bullying Laws & Legislation

Instructor: Tisha Collins Batis

Tisha is a licensed real estate agent in Texas. She holds bachelor's in legal studies and a master's degree in criminal justice.

Bullying has existed for centuries in this nation, creating many vulnerable victims. This lesson will explore anti-bullying laws and legislation designed to protect these victims, as well as future victims.

How Do We Reduce and End Bullying?

Bullying has plagued the nation for centuries and has become even worse with the advance of cyber technology. Today, children can bully one another while hiding safely behind the keyboard of their computer or touch screen of their smart phone. The problem has become so bad that children have committed suicide as a result of being bullied. While there is no federal law that prohibits bullying specifically, every state in the nation has passed anti-bullying laws. Anti-bullying legislation is enacted to help reduce and end bullying, this legislation is often aimed at stopping bullying in schools and the work place.

Real-Life Victim

Gabriel Taye was only eight years old when he took his own life in January of 2017. His mother didn't even know that he was being bullied at school. Unfortunately for Taye, he had been assaulted by his bullies just two days before he died. The assault left him unconscious for several minutes, alone, before adults came to his aid. His mother was told that he fainted. That night, she took him to the hospital because he was vomiting. She never knew, until after he died, that he had been assaulted that day. The truth didn't come out until attorneys were able to get a copy of a video from police investigators that showed the assault. Taye was not protected from his bullies, his mother wasn't able to protect him due to being unaware, and school officials did nothing to protect him. Taye was tragically failed by the system.


Timeline for Legislation

In April of 1999, the Columbine Massacre occurred. The perpetrators of the crime had been trapped in an environment where bullying happened on a daily basis. Even the Special Education students at their school were not safe. The massacre left children (including the two shooters) dead and many wounded. It also left a permanent mark on the nation and a drive for strong anti-bullying laws to be enacted.

In May of 1999, the state of Georgia took the first step to address bullying in schools and put a stop to it. It held schools responsible for preventing bullying in their facilities and keeping children safe. Since then, every other state in the nation has enacted laws against bullying. Some have also created policies against bullying.

The state of California was the first state to catch up with technology. It passed the first legislation against cyber-bullying in August 2008. By this time, the use of social media was exploding. Bullies had new access to their victims; they didn't have to wait to meet them in the school yard like they had in the past. Now they could hide behind technology and use that technology to their advantage. Their victims weren't safe from bullying anywhere anymore, as the messages and hate mail would find them anywhere they went.

The state of New Jersey passed a major anti-bullying law in September of 2010. This law held witnesses accountable if they didn't report bullying incidents that they witnessed. It also required schools to report cases of bullying to the state of California. Finally, it required schools to implement policies that defined how the school would react to bullying incidents.

Today, all states have anti-bullying laws. Some of them also have policies in place to deal with bullying. There are no federal laws that focus directly on bullying; however, there are laws that protect specific classes which will be discussed later.

Exploring Different States

All of the states have enacted their own laws regarding bullying. Fortunately, all of the states are on board with protecting vulnerable victims from the effects of bullying. They each handle the situation in their own way.

The state of Oklahoma has laws and policies in place regarding bullying. These laws do address cyber-bullying, which shows their ability to keep up with current technology. The laws address prohibiting hazing, controlling and disciplining the bully, separating the victim and bully, suicide awareness, suicide prevention, and the implementation of anti-bullying policies. Additionally, the state of Oklahoma maintains a website solely for preventing bullying.

The state of Colorado, where the Columbine Massacre occurred, has laws in place regarding bullying. Their laws also address cyber-bullying, showing that they are working with the current times. There are specific groups covered by the anti-bullying laws (while Oklahoma, in contrast, does not have specific groups listed). The Colorado laws address hazing, education and prevention programs, and even a cash fund for prevention and education.


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