Friday, November 30, 2012

Is there a generic term of "Bullying" and is it against the law?

Sometimes we have to revisit the elements of bullying.  There is still confusion on what exactly constitutes school bullying.  So let's go back to basics.

1.  Each "State" has their own definition of bullying.  Many states have their own anti bullying laws.  What is defined as bullying in Florida may be different in New Jersey. 
2.  Anti Bullying laws usually pertain to public schools and can be found embedded in the Education Statutes.  At least that is how it is in Florida.  Private schools may have their own anti bullying law but they are not under the guise of state law.
3.  Not all states consider bullying a criminal violation however the types of acts constituting bullying can be criminal:  For instance:  If a bully intentionally hits their victim that possibly can be a battery if the actions of the bully fit the criminal elements.  The elements of the crime of battery may be different in each state. 
4.  However let me be clear.  One time hit or even a two or three time hit may not be bullying.  Actions from the bully must be ongoing and systematic.
5. Theft, if part of on going and continuous acts, can be considered part of the bullying.  But theft is also against the law in most of the states, and is a crime within itself.
6.  Not all states have cyber bullying laws within the education laws.  However there are laws in many states that criminalize cyber -harassing or stalking. 
7.  Adults may think that because they are being cyber-stalked or harassed, that they are being bullied.  Well yes in a way, but not under the education law.  Bullying mainly pertains to schools bullying. However as I said above cyber- harassment and cyber-stalking may be a criminal violation depending on the state you live in.
8.  There is lots of talk about workplace bullying.  Certainly not against the law and not a fireable offense unless the actions pertain to sexual harassment under federal law, discrimination because of age, sex, origin, race etc., Workplace bullying is actually more harmful to the bullied victims and has been associated with domestic violence.  Victims develop severe psychological and physical problems leading to PTDS and sometimes suicide. 

This is just a sample of the confusion many people have regarding bullying.  If you have any questions please don't hesitate to write me.

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