Bullying has become a growing issue in schools all around the world. Because of the lasting effect and trauma it can cause on a child, there a federal and state laws to protect them. If you have a child, it is important to know and understand these laws. Knowing your child’s rights and the responsibilities of their school can help better protect them against bullying:
State vs. Federal Law
There is a difference between state and federal law when it comes to bullying. It’s important to become familiar with them both, but your first line of defense is state law. Each state has their own anti-bullying laws and will typically hold a school to certain responsibilities. These responsibilities include reporting, documenting and investigating bullying within a specific number of days. State law also requires schools to act against bullying. It’s important to review how your state law defines bullying, what it requires from schools reporting bullying, and the penalties for bullying. When it comes to federal law, there are less strict timelines. Federal laws give specific protections for children with disabilities and the responsibility of the schools.
Practicing the Law
The law clearly states what bullying is and what the acts of bullying are. But in real life, it can be difficult to define. Investigating bullying in a school can present some issues with every case. Sometimes an incident is not reported by a student, but a teacher may witness an account and have to report it. Other times a certain conflict won’t count as an act of bullying. If can be difficult for a school to decide what an act of bullying really is or if it’s just teasing between classmates. There may be times when you will disagree with the school’s final decision, but it’s important to let them know in writing that you feel the made the wrong call.
What to Do
If you are worried that your child may be a victim of bullying, there are steps you can take to resolve this issue. Be sure to document everything to keep on record. You will need to know everything about the incident and check to see if laws might apply. Then take the issue to the school to put a statement in writing on what you believe happened to your child. Mention the effects it has had on your child. This can include a change in mood, being scared to come to school, or even the impact it’s had on their education. Talk over with their school the necessary step that needs to be taken to help your child feel safe and protected against bullying.