Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year and approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying. What’s even more troubling is that over 67% of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying. And a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
“Being bullied can have traumatic consequences for a child, leading to poor school performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression,” says Parents advisor David Fassler, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont, in Burlington
Luckily, you and your child have rights and legal protections that require schools to act when kids are bullied. State and federal laws address bullying in different ways. Federal laws offer specific protections that can benefit kids with learning and attention issues.
Student Code of Conduct-
If your child is being bullied, your first plan of action should be to familiarize yourself with the Student Code of Conduct for your school. Student codes of conduct are designed to serve both the classroom and the individual. They outline students’ rights, ensuring that no student will be penalized or singled out based on anything but a violation of established rules. They also outline students’ responsibilities, thus letting individual students know that they need to meet certain standards for their own sake and that of the entire class.
State Anti-Bullying Laws-
You also have your state’s anti-bullying laws. All 50 states have anti-bullying laws. These laws often have the strongest protections for students. And they can help put an immediate stop to the bullying.
A typical state anti-bullying law requires a school to report, document and investigate bullying within a specific number of days. It also requires the school to take action to stop it. Many state laws list consequences for bullies. Some have a process for offering services like counseling to the victim and the bully.
Federal Anti-Bullying Protections-
When it comes to bullying, state law typically has stricter timelines and protections than federal law. But federal laws offer specific protections that can benefit kids with learning and attention issues:
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees kids with IEPsthe right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). IDEA requires a school to act if bullying interferes with a child’s FAPE.
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also guarantees kids the right to FAPE. Kids with 504 plans are covered by Section 504. If bullying interferes with FAPE for a child with a 504 plan, the school must act.
- Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) both prohibit discrimination at school against kids with disabilities, which can include kids with learning and attention issues. When kids are bullied because they have a disability, the school must act.
It can be hard to know what action to take if your child is bullied. But every state has an anti-bullying law that can help put an immediate stop to bullying. Kids who are bullied because of their disabilities have additional protections under federal law. If your child is bullied, document what happened and how it affected your child.