Everyday Law: New Bullying Laws in California

Bullying has been in the news a lot lately, particularly when something tragic happens to the child being tormented. Students, parents, and educators are wondering what laws are available to help prevent bullying and what can be done to stop it. A bully is defined as “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people”.

California already has several laws in place to protect children from being bullied, including the California Safe Place to Learn Act located in the California Education Code §234(b) which ensures “local educational agencies continue to work to reduce discrimination, harassment, violence, intimidation, and bullying”. The current laws will be strengthened by two new laws aimed to further prevent bullying in schools.

Previously, the California Education Code §§ 32261, 32265, 32270, and 48900 defined bullying of pupils to include bullying committed by means of an electronic act, and authorizes school officials to suspend or recommend for expulsion pupils who engage in bullying. Assembly Bill 746 Ch. 72, which took effect January 1, 2012, amended §32261, to include social networking sites. The code now states “bullying, including bullying committed personally or by means of an electronic act, which includes the posting of messages on a social network Internet Website…”. Common Sense Media has developed helpful tips for parents to help combat cyber bullying.

Another new law, Assembly Bill 9 Ch. 723, sometimes referred to as Seth’s Law is set to go into effect July 1, 2012. Seth’s Law strengthens existing policies in California schools by requiring that all schools have an anti-bullying policy and more importantly, the law enacts a timeline that school officials must follow when investigating student claims of bullying.

The California Department of Education has created Frequently Asked Questions, that provide information for educators, students, families, and community safety partners who wish to educate themselves and others about effective measures to prevent bullying and respond to it. They have also created sample policies that your institution can use to implement a no bullying policy.

For more information on this and other “Everyday Law” subjects, visit the Sacramento County Public Law Library, “Providing Free Public Access to Legal Information for over 100 years.”

By Robyn M. Moltzen, Public Services Librarian

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February 2, 2012 | 8:03 AM

Arguably the biggest failure of our educational system is the inability to create safe places to learn. Our mega giant high schools combined with slack enforcement of the golden rule have over the past 60 years turned our schools into juvenile delinquent factories.

Thanks for the data Robyn.

February 2, 2012 | 8:48 AM

Probably the one thumbs down is or was a bully.

February 2, 2012 | 9:16 AM

There’s a 3rd new bill signed into law:
AB 1156: Amends California Education Code sections 32261, 32282, 32283, 46600, 48900, effective July 1, 2012:

1. Encourages inclusion of bullying prevention policies and procedures in comprehensive school safety plans;
2. Requires the Attorney General’s Office and the CA Dept. of Education to contract to provide training in the prevention of bullying. Note: this law does not require districts to train their staff; the requirement is directed at State agencies to contract to provide the training.
3. Requires that a pupil who has been determined (by school personnel) to have been the “victim” of an act of bullying be given priority and/or additional consideration for an interdistrict transfer if the parent of the “victim” requests a transfer.
4. Amends the definition of bullying to mean:

any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, as defined, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, hate violence, or harassment, threats, or intimidation, that has the effect or can reasonably be predicted to have the effect of placing a reasonable pupil, as defined, in fear of harm to that pupil’s or those pupils’ person or property, causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his or her physical or mental health, causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her academic performance, or causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

July 11, 2013 | 4:56 PM

How are children protected from teachers who bully’s them in the classroom? Please help. ! so many children are called names by the adults in front of the classroom.

June 1, 2012 | 6:12 PM

I am very much relieved to find that there is now help. I was a bullied gay child. I hope that someone is looking to further this legislation to include senior centers, day cares, mobile home parks and senior homeowners associations.

October 8, 2012 | 8:31 PM

Sometimes it is not other children that do the bulling in our school systems when administrators use group punishments the children in the group who were innocent feel victimized and sometimes lash out at authority figures and the children that got them in trouble this practice needs to be stopped.

October 16, 2012 | 7:06 AM

I recently read the story about Amanda Todd. It kinda hit close to home. I have a thirteen year old daughter. That has been having issues with some girls at her school. At this age they seem to notice boys more, so yes my daughter has talked to a few boys but that is it. I’m not there with her at school but keep in mind she just hit her teens. So she could be flirting with some of these boys . So now she has a problem with some of the girls in her school. They have left comments on Facebook referring to her as a slut, a hoe and a b****. They have threatened to kick her a**. I brought it to the schools attention. I spoke to the school counselor. The reaction I got was “well since they deleted their posts from your daughters wall there is really not much we can do. I can warn them that if anything should occur their punishment will be increased.” Later that day I picked up my daughter asked her what happened. She told me they pulled her out of her 6th period class because she shares a class with one of these girls and put her in In house. Why? In house is for students that have done something wrong why would they place my daughter in, in house and not the other student? This is wrong for them to do. At least in my eyes. Its like saying you deserve what you get so you get punished for it. To top this off when I went to talk to the counselor in the 1st place the secretary tells me” oh I told you to come back at 11. She’s busy now she’s with a new student and she has appointments the rest of the day. Can you come back tomorrow?” I was like tomorrow? These girls threatened to kick my daughters butt today. So the secretary tells me”so do you want to take the student home?” Really?! Now I have to take my daughter out of school because she’s being threatened and no one is available to help me out with the situation? So after she sees I’m upset she asks “do you want me to set you up with someone else about this matter?” Uh yes! “No one was available” so she gets the counselor on the line and sends me back there to her office. She was not with any student after all! Come to find out she tells my daughter to just fill out a statement then goes to lunch. So its like her lunch was more important than my daughters safety. I don’t know what to do. Is there anything that can be done? Please help.

February 25, 2013 | 3:08 PM

I transferred my daughter to another school and the harassment continues. The vice principal said to the principal, in front of students, “Its pretty sad when a kid cant take a little bullying without her mother getting involved.” Really?!? No wonder it hasnt stopped. I bet the parents of the “bully” arent even aware of the situation.

November 1, 2012 | 9:40 PM

What can i do my son is disable but does nt look like it he been getting bullied for a while now thers also proof on the bus vides but the principle wont do nothing to protect my child ….verbal,fiscal,and racial bullying because his parens are gay help is this a civil lawsuit againg the school

July 11, 2013 | 5:01 PM

My child was called names by a teacher, in front of the class and made to leave her class room. The educational system actually has the ability to create safe places to youth to learn. How can students be protected from those in charge who bullies?
Thank you I need your help!

September 14, 2013 | 8:56 PM

Schools are hot houses for bullies. I was bullied as a child and ended up in the hospital and this was in the 60′s. Schools are not safe places for children. When we get this straight maybe we will rethink how we raise children. You cannot have that many children crammed together with all their growing up issues, unsupervised alot of the time, and not have Lord of the Flies. The pecking order rules in the schools and it is a cruel and complicated maze to navigate for many children. No it does not resemble real life!

October 12, 2013 | 10:09 PM

I need a little advice I have a 6 year old daughter and we are on public housing we live in an apartment complex and she is the youngest child here she tries so hard just to play with the other kids but they are always excluding her from what ever they are playing they will have picnic partys and tell her she can only play of she brings them food they have pushed her and rite now she has a cast on her arm and one of the kids kicked get cast I’ve tried going to the parents but it only ends up being an argument and I’m constantly told they are just kids they will get over it in 5 minutes I feel like no one cares because it is not their child out is happening to it’s even to the point where the parents will have movie night and invite all the kids from the appts in front of my daughter but tell her she can’t come it hurts me to see her crying everyday and I’m financially unstable to move I’m very low income or I would have been out of here along time ago I feel stuck and I feel like the parents know I can’t do anything about out so basically I’m forced to just deal with it I’m so afraid of what emotionally continues to happen to my daughter any advice would be helpful

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