No longer is bullying confined to the schoolyard where children could previously escape the pressure of bullies and retreat to a safe place called home. With the rise of the Internet come new ways for students to bully others nonstop. Bullying has become an epidemic that affects not only children, but parents, teachers and the community. According to the National Education Association, PACER Center, and StopBullying.gov:
• 1 in 7 students in grades K – 12 are either a bully or have been a victim of bullying.
• An estimated 160,000 U.S. children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.
• 83% of girls and 79% of boys report experiencing harassment.
• Six out of 10 teenagers say they witness bullying in school once a day.
• 35% of kids have been threatened online.
• Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ youth report being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
• 57% of boys and 43% of girls reported being bullied because of religious or cultural differences.
• Bullies often go on to perpetrate violence later in life: 40% of boys identified as bullies in grades 6 through 9 had three or more arrests by age 30.
• One out of every 10 students who drop out of school does so because of repeated incidents of bullying.
• 75% of shooting incidents at schools have been linked to bullying and harassment.
• 64% of children who were bullied did not report it.
• Nearly 70% of students think schools respond poorly to bullying.
• When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time.
Bullying has serious, adverse educational effects, and students who are targets often experience extreme stress that can lead to symptoms of physical illness and a diminished ability to learn, according to the National Education Association. This translates into increased absenteeism and impaired performance, as indicated by decreased test scores.
Assembly Bill No. 2536 CHAPTER 419
An act to amend Sections 234.2 and 48900 of the Education Code, relating to elementary and secondary education. [Approved by Governor September 21, 2016. Filed with Secretary of State September 21, 2016.] legislative counsel’ s digest AB 2536, Chau. Pupil discipline and safety: cyber sexual bullying. (1) Existing law prohibits the suspension of a pupil from school or the recommendation of a pupil for expulsion from school unless the school district superintendent or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has committed any of several specified acts, including, but not limited to, engaging in acts of bullying by means of an electronic act. This bill would include engaging in an act of cyber sexual bullying, as defined, as an act of bullying by means of an electronic act for which a pupil may be suspended or expelled from school. (2) Existing law requires the State Department of Education to display current information, and periodically update information, on curricula and other resources that specifically address bias-related discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on certain actual or perceived characteristics on the California Healthy Kids Resource Center Internet Web site and other appropriate department Internet Web sites where information about discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying is posted. This bill would add cyber sexual bullying to this list of topics on which the department would be required to provide information. The bill would require the department to annually inform school districts of the information on the California Healthy Kids Resource Center Internet Web site and other appropriate department Internet Web sites where information about cyber sexual bullying is posted. The bill would encourage school districts to inform pupils regarding the available information and resources on the department’s Internet Web sites regarding the dangers and consequences of cyber sexual bullying to help reduce the instances of cyber sexual bullying. (3) This bill would incorporate additional changes to Section 48900 of the Education Code proposed by AB 2212 that would become operative if this bill and AB 2212 are both enacted and this bill is enacted last.
For more information, please visit, https://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/california.html
Although no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it is based on race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, or religion. When bullying and harassment overlap, federally-funded schools (including colleges and universities) have an obligation to resolve the harassment. When the situation is not adequately resolved, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be able to help. For more information, please visit, https://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/federal/index.html