Stories of children being bullied are heartbreaking. There are no words that can adequately describe the feeling in the pit of your stomach or the aching of your heart when you hear of a child enduring this trauma, or worse, a child ending their life because of it. Although bullying has been prevalent in school-aged children for as long as there have been schools, it seems like it is more a problem now than ever. With the rise of the internet and social media has come a new way of communication. Unfortunately, thanks to the genius of social media platforms and applications, communication between youth cannot be cut off. Bullies have constant access to their prey and can put their insults on view for the whole world to see. This constant contact has brought about an epidemic that has caused innocent, young, beautiful lives to be cut short---and it must stop.
For change to occur regarding the bullying epidemic, change needs to take place on multiple levels. Parents should be aware, local leaders need to step-up, and laws need to be enforced at an even higher level. The United States government created the first law against bullying in 1999. Then, in 2015, all 50 states finally adopted anti-bullying laws.
If you are a parent, your worst nightmare is most likely the thought of your child enduring the pain of bullying. Along with teaching your children the value of kindness, and advocating against bullying at your local schools, there are a few things that you should know about anti-bullying laws should the situation ever arise where you need to make a case for your child.
Bullying and Cyberbullying are Addressed Separately
Youth experience bullying both in person and online. Although one child could be encountering both situations simultaneously, they are addressed differently by the law. Bullying is an imbalance of power or negative, aggressive behavior that happens repetitively. Bullying can take place verbally, socially or physically and takes place in person.
Cyberbullying is also negative, aggressive behavior, but it takes place over a digital device such as a cell phone, laptop, or tablet. Although it has the same nature as bullying, cyberbullying has proven to be much more mentally detrimental to youth, because of the inability to escape from it.
With the difference in definition, these two types of bullying are addressed differently when it comes to the law. If your child or someone you know is experiencing bullying, carefully document each occurrence in a detailed manner so that it can be handled justly.
Each State Has Different Laws
Although it is true that all 50 states have adopted laws against bullying, not all states have adopted the same sends. In fact, not every state has even adopted laws against cyberbullying. Therefore, if your child is experiencing bullying, it is important to familiarize yourself with state laws.
Schools Have Limitations Regarding Consequences for Bullying
If the state that you live in has not adopted laws against a bullying or a particular bullying situation, it is best to check with your local school. In some cases, schools have policies that outline consequences related to bullying. However, because of the extreme nature of cyberbullying and the fact that it does not always take place on school property (and it is difficult to determine if it does), it can be difficult for schools to enforce consequences against it. As a parent, advocating with your school for a variety of bullying rules can help to ensure that any issues experienced will be addressed.
As a parent, it is hard to protect your child from everything. But, understanding bullying laws and the nature of bullying among youth is a great first step.