Did you know there are no federal bullying laws? It’s surprising to many people and makes some parents feel angry. If their child is being bullied, does that mean the school doesn’t have to do anything about it? Not necessarily. It’s more complicated than that.
Many parents assume their child is protected against bullying by federal law.
Surely there must be something in place to protect children and require schools to get involved in stopping bullying.
Many schools do. Most middle and high schools have codes of conduct that address both typical bullying and cyberbullying. Many states also require teachers to go through training on antibullying responses to get their certifications.
However, there is no federal law that explicitly addresses bullying.
So my child is not protected?
While it might seem like the federal government has left it up to schools, given that they have made no federal bullying laws, there are still federal laws that protect children.
As organizations that accept federal money, schools must comply with all federal civil rights laws.
These laws have stipulations about how protected classes must be treated. Protected classes include groups based on
- Gender Identity
- Sexual Orientation
- National Origin
If the bullying is based on your child’s identity in one of these categories, and the school fails to take action, that could be considered discrimination on the school’s part.
For more information on federal civil rights laws and bullying, click here.
What does the school have to do?
Schools are required to create an appropriate environment for all of their students. If they fail to respond to bullying in their school, this can create a hostile learning environment.
Children in a hostile learning environment do not gain skills or learn new information at the same rate as their peers.
A hostile learning environment can deny a child equal opportunities for education.
If a school created this environment, it can be considered discrimination and a violation of the student’s civil rights.
Not responding to bullying based on a child belonging to a protected class can be a sign of discrimination.
To learn more about signs of discrimination, download our free signs of discrimination in schools checklist.
What are my legal options?
If you think your child’s school has created a hostile learning environment, you might have legal options worth pursuing. However, each case is different.
We would be happy to discuss the specifics of your case with you. Call us at 618-277-1554 to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.