California Anti-Bullying Laws

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over various anti-bullying laws found in California. You'll learn what types of bullying they apply to and what punishments (if any) they institute for bullying.

Bullying Laws

Being bullied can have serious emotional and physical consequences. Bullying refers to an act where a person use their power (physical or otherwise) to intimidate another or to make them to do something against their will.

For a long time, bullies acted with impunity. But now, stronger laws around the country have made it easier to target bullies and/or help the victims. This lesson zeroes in on some of the laws on the books about bullying in California.

California Education Code

The California Education Code has several rules in place with respect to bullying. The California Safe Place to Learn Act, located in the Code, is one such law. It outlines some important things with respect to bullying. It states that local educational institutions should:

  • adopt a policy that prohibits bullying.
  • publicize antibullying policies, as well as how someone can file a bullying complaint. This information should be publicized to the following groups of people: students, parents, employees, those on the governing board and the public at large.
  • have a process in place for receiving and investigating complaints of bullying.
  • have a set timeline to investigate and resolve bullying complaints.
  • take immediate steps to stop bullying, down to the employee level.
  • ensure that those filing the complaint are protected and their identity is kept confidential, as appropriate. In other words, sometimes their identity must be revealed to people that have to know but otherwise they shouldn't be tattled on!

The California Education Code doesn't limit bullying to face to face physical or verbal abuse, but includes electronic acts as well, called cyberbullying. It is also very specific to define cyberbullying as including messages on social networking sites or the creation of fake profiles for the purposes of bullying. The school is further authorized to suspend or expel bullies, including cyberbullies, if they feel it is appropriate.


Bullying isn't limited to schools, though that's what we commonly associate it with. Bullying can also occur in the workplace. California has a kind of workplace antibullying law, though that term is probably begin a bit generous.

This 2015 law is known formally as A.B. 2053. This bill arose partially because studies have found that workplace bullying is a serious problem. It drives down morale, causes frequent turnover, and event leads to increased workers' compensation claims. That means it's a big loss for business. How big? $200 million a year's worth!

This law does not use the word 'bullying' specifically, but its implication is pretty clear nonetheless. It states that 'abusive conduct' in the workplace is something that ''a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer's legitimate business interests.'' This includes verbal abuse like insults, or verbal or physical conduct that pretty much anyone would find either intimidating, humiliating, or threatening. In short, bullying.

However, this law is not as comprehensive in its antibullying nature as the one for schools. The law doesn't make bullying (in general) in the workplace unlawful. All it really does is require managers and supervisor in California to undergo prevention of abusive conduct training as part of their mandatory, biennial, sexual harassment and discrimination avoidance training.

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