California Anti-Bullying Laws

California Anti-Bullying Laws .

All of us have heard of the dangers of bullying. Bullying has been alleged to develop students into mass school-shooters. It has been cited as the cause of teenage or young adult suicides. Bullying is basically harassment, most often harassment by groups of people as opposed to one individual. Of course, bullying is often anonymous, and can be via smartphone and social networks—called cyber-bullying.

When a person is harassed by another individual—such as an ex-dating partner— harassment can be curbed by a civil restraining order if necessary. The harassing person can be charged with a crime if his or her behavior is without any legitimate purpose, becomes repetitive and frightening enough to constitute stalking under Penal Code 646.9.

Bullying is different from harassment because the “bully” is not usually just one person with a grudge but is often a group of schoolmates, or people who were once thought of as friends. Bullying in the modern era is not just a message written on the men’s room wall “for a good time call…”, or name-calling in the schoolyard. Bullying in the age of social media is often fairly anonymous, is likely online and harder to track. It is likely impossible to catch the bullies and bring them to court for anti-harassment civil restraining orders, since proof of the offense is difficult.

California Education Code sections 32261, 32265, 32270, and 48900 define bullying of students to include bullying committed by means of an electronic act, and authorizes school officials to suspend or recommend for expulsion pupils who engage in bullying.

The California Legislature has also passed the Safe Place to Learn Act, which applies to students either at school, at a school function or in transit to or from school. If the bullies wait until they arrive home to hit the social media networks, it is difficult to punish.

On May 20, 2014, the city council in Carson, CA – a suburb of Los Angeles – narrowly defeated an ordinance that would have made it the first CA city to enact a general anti-bullying City Ordinance.  The proposed ordinance would have charged instances of bullying as infraction(s) the first two times, raising it to misdemeanor offense if it occurs a third time. Although most people agree that “bullying” behavior is socially unacceptable and should be thwarted, any law against bullying within the city limits would have likely be as difficult to enforce as it is at school.

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!

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