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.
By Robyn M. Moltzen, Public Services Librarian