School Bullying in California

Bullying has been a major problem for a long time and hundreds of thousands of children experience some form of bullying every single day. While public awareness of the prevalence of bullying is at all time high, the problem not only has not been eradicated, but in the era of social media, it has become more serious than ever.

Bullying can take many shapes or forms, and victims can be targeted due to their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or for a variety of other reasons. It is a form of violence, which can be physical; verbal, including making threats or inappropriate sexual comments; or social, including spreading rumors or disseminating hurtful material. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive, repetitive, and there has to be an imbalance of power.

While a significant part of society considers bullying a normal part of growing up, the reality is that it can have devastating consequences and lasting impact on children and teens. Some of the more serious effects of bullying include depression, anxiety, poor school performance, eating disorders, substance use, anger, isolation, and self-injury. More importantly, too many times, bullying has served as a catalyst for suicide, violence towards others, as well as homicidal ideas or actions.

California has very strict anti-bullying laws. In short, the California Education Code defines bullying as “any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act” directed at one or more students that causes or can be reasonable predicted to cause fear of harm, substantially detrimental effect on a student’s physical or mental health, poor school performance, or affects a student’s “ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.”

California’s anti-bullying laws and regulations include regulations on how schools are required to deal with bullying, and they apply equally to on-campus bullying as well as cyber bullying, including cyber sexual bullying. Notably, when it comes to cyber bullying, California’s laws and regulations cover both on-campus as well as off-campus bullying, and the law does not make a distinction, if the electronic act was created or transmitted on or off the school site.

When it comes to public schools, California’s laws and regulations, require all school districts 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.” Some of the policies that school districts are required to implement and enforce are:

  • Statements prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying;
  • Resources to support at-risk students, including LGBTQ students;
  • Procedures for reporting and investigating complaints;
  • Publications of anti-bullying, antidiscrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-intimidation laws; and
  • Providing protections to those who file complaints.

In addition to state laws and regulations, schools that receive federal funding, including colleges and universities, have to comply with federal laws. As a result, while there are currently no anti-bullying laws on the federal level, in certain instances bullying can overlap with discriminatory harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, or religion, which are covered by federal civil rights laws. In those instances, the schools have an obligation to address the conduct, and failure to do so, may be a violation of federal civil rights laws.

At the Justice Firm, we believe that every student has the right to attend school and receive education in a safe environment and to be free from any intolerance or bullying.

If you believe that your child has been the victim of bullying, harassment, or discrimination, know that you are not alone. Our experienced and empathetic attorneys understand that bullying and harassment can be a very traumatic and harmful experience and are ready to provide you and your child with a safe environment where you can receive a compassionate and confidential case assessment.

If you would like to discuss your case and the legal options available to you and your child, you can contact us today locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714, or click here.

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