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Forty-nine states in the United States have passed school anti-bullying legislation, the first being Georgia in 1999. The one state without anti-bullying legislation is Montana. A watchdog organization called Bully Police USA advocates for and reports on anti-bullying legislation.[1]

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 did not have anti-bullying legislation.

Georgia's anti-bullying legislation was strengthened in 2010 with the passage of Senate Bill 250. Senate Bill 250 included a provision allowing for those accused of bullying another student could be reassigned to another school in order to separate the offender and the victim of bullying;[2]

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;[3] 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.[4]

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 for severe cases.


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” [5]

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. [5]

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."[6]

GLBTQ bullyingEdit

File:School bullying laws in the United States.svg

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.” [7] 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.[8]

Various organizations provide resources and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. These organizations include The Trevor Project, It Gets Better Project, and The Matthew Shepard Foundation.[9]


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.” [10]

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.[11]

Many states already have existing criminal and civil remedies to deal with cyberbullying. Extreme cases would fall under criminal harassment or stalking laws or a target could pursue civil action for intentional infliction of emotional distress or defamation, to name a few. Bullying that occurs at school is no doubt already subject to an existing bullying policy. To be sure, schools should bring their bullying and harassment policies into the 21st Century by explicitly identifying cyberbullying as a proscribed behavior, but they need to move beyond the behaviors that occur on school grounds or those that utilize school-owned resources. But in order to do this they need guidance from their state legislators and Departments of Education so that they draft a policy and procedure that will be held up in court.[12]

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)

See alsoEdit


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Articles related to Abuse

Types of bullying

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