Cyberbullying, Bullying & Harassment
Cyberbullying, Bullying & Harassment
Cyberbullying, bullying, and harassment is a criminal offense in California. Under section 234.6 of the Education Code, each local agency is required to provide policies that speak to these offenses in a manner that is readily available and in a noticeable location on the local education agency’s existing website. This should be done in a manner that is easily accessible to parents, guardians, and pupils.
Information to be provided by the local education agency
- The local education agency’s written policy on sexual harassment as it relates to pupils
- The local education agency’s policy against discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying
- A section on social media bullying should entail the following references to possible forums for social media bullying:
- Internet websites with free registration and ease of registration
- Internet websites offering peer-to-peer instant messaging
- Internet websites offering comment forums or sections
- Internet websites offering image or video posting platforms.
- Any additional information the local education agency deems fit for averting bullying and harassment.
Section 48900 of the Education Code defines bullying as any conduct, whether physical or verbal, directed towards one or more pupils that has the effect of:
- Placing a pupil in fear of harm to himself/herself or their property
- Causing a substantial detriment to the pupil’s mental or physical health
- Causing significant interference with the pupil’s academic performance
- Causing substantial interference with the pupil’s ability to engage in or benefit from school activities, privileges, and services
The Code further stipulates that pupils who engage in bullying can be punished by school officials by way of suspension or recommendation for expulsion.
Cyberbullying is considered to be the creation or transmission of a message, text, sound, video, image, post on social media, and burn page that has the effect of causing fear of harm and is detrimental to another pupil’s physical and mental health and academic performance. Moreover, the creation of a credible impersonation of another pupil and a false profile with the intent of harming another pupil is classified as bullying.
Cyberbullying among pupils is also punishable by suspension or expulsion.
Another important aspect of cyberbullying is cyber sexual bullying which means the distribution or solicitation of a photograph or visual recording by one pupil to another or to the school personnel via electronic means. This usually happens for the purpose of causing fear and detriment to a pupil’s physical and mental health as well as interfering with the pupil’s academic performance and normal school activities.
A pupil who engages in cyberbullying acts may be suspended from school or even expelled. However, it is worth noting that the pupil can only be suspended or expelled for the said acts if:
- they are related to a school activity
- occur at a school attendance within a school
- happen under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district or principal
- occur within any other school district
The Education Code 48900 also prohibits harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability.
Such harassment is considered a form of discrimination and may attract disciplinary action from the local agency. The disciplinary action will depend on the ages of the students and the factual circumstances of the incidents.
Obligations of schools
California laws require that schools adopt policies and measures to avert and address student-on-student harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
Schools are also mandated to develop policies that:
- layout the process to report bullying incidents
- layout the process for investigating such reports
- require the school administration to intervene and stop bullying incidents
- set up an appeal process for a student to follow when challenging a finding of bullying
- disallow retaliation against anyone who reports suspected bullying
Under section 234.2, schools are also required to avail information on the California Healthy Kids Resource Centre website and other suitable sites.