California’s Anti-Bullying Laws: What They Are, Whom They Protect
Any child can become a victim of bullying. Children have the right to attend school safely. If bullying does occur, a child also has the right to receive the support they need from teachers and administrative staff in the event of bullying. Schools, meanwhile, are responsible for developing policies that prohibit bullying and must be held accountable when this type of harm happens.
California has numerous anti-bullying laws and regulations that address both on-campus bullying and cyberbullying (including cyber sexual bullying). The state has a lengthy definition of bullying, which you can read in full at the StopBullying.gov website. In short, California defines bullying as “any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct” directed at one or more pupils that causes fear of harm, negative impacts on physical and mental well-being, poor academic performance, and interference with school activities.
Bullying can take on a multitude of forms including hitting, kicking, spitting, verbal teasing, spreading rumors, sexual touching or assault, and many other harmful acts. Cyberbullying and cyber sexual bullying include acts of bullying that happen over the phone, text message, via a website, social media, or by any other electronic means.
California’s anti-bullying laws cover cyberbullying that happens off-campus as well as on-campus.
Any of these acts are harmful on their own. They have also been known to be contributing factors to depression, poor academic performance, suicide, violence towards others, and other tragedies no child should have to witness or experience.
Bullying laws are meant to protect all students. To that end, school districts are required to adopt policies that prohibit “discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived characteristics including immigration status, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”
Policies developed and enforced by school districts can include (but are not limited to):
- Statements that prohibit harassment, intimidation, and bullying
- Procedures for reporting bullying
- Procedures for investigating bullying
- Support resources for high-risk students (e.g., LGBTQ)
- Protections for those who file complaints
- Publications of antidiscrimination, anti-harassment, anti-intimidation, and anti-bullying laws
California school districts are also required to train teachers and school staff on responding to bullying, and to provide mental health services for students that are bullied.
Every student has the right to attend school and receive an education in a safe environment. When intolerance and discrimination manifest in any form, including school bullying, our attorneys are ready to assist through supportive legal help.