District of Columbia

Breadcrumb

Washington D.C. Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

Which District of Columbia laws and regulations cover bullying?

How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations?

District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations include the following definitions of bullying:

“Bullying” means any severe, pervasive, or persistent act or conduct, whether physical, electronic, or verbal that:

(i)  May be based on a youth’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place of residence or business, or any other distinguishing characteristic, or on a youth’s association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics; and

(ii) Can be reasonably predicted to:

    (I)   Place the youth in reasonable fear of physical harm to his or her person or property;

    (II)  Cause a substantial detrimental effect on the youth’s physical or mental health;

    (III) Substantially interfere with the youth’s academic performance or attendance; or

    (IV) Substantially interfere with the youth’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by an agency, educational institution, or grantee.

Code of D.C. Municipal Regulations 4-1502

Do District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus?

No. District of Columbia anti-bullying laws do not cover off-campus conduct. Bullying which occurs on-site, but involves off-site activities, is prohibited if it creates a hostile environment for the target or witness of bullying or impedes with a youth’s ability to participate at school.

What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?

District of Columbia schools must adopt bullying prevention policies prohibiting bullying, including cyber-bullying. School policies must contain key policy and procedural elements, including, but not limited to:

  • Definitions of bullying;
  • Statements prohibiting bullying, including cyberbullying and statements of scope indicating where and when the policy applies;
  • Statements prohibiting retaliation against a victim or witness of bullying, or a person who reports bullying;
  • Codes of conduct that set expectations for behavior and lists of consequences for conduct violations;
  • Procedures for reporting and investigations, including the name and contact information for the person designated to received bullying reports and a secondary investigation appeals process;
  • Statements of consequences for violation of the policy;
  • Statements prohibiting retaliation; and
  • Requirements for how to publicize the bullying prevention policy.

District of Columbia anti-bullying laws require entities to submit an annual update confirming the identity of the point of contact and any substantial revisions to the bullying prevention policy. Schools must also report the number of information on the incidents of bullying and retaliation to the Office of Human Rights.

Do District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations include protections for specific groups?

Yes. Bullying may be based on a youth’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place of residence or business, or any other distinguishing characteristic, or on a youth’s association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics.

District of Columbia schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination on a number of different personal characteristics. Find out when bullying may be a civil rights violation.

Do District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?

Yes. District of Columbia schools are encouraged to establish an ongoing bullying prevention program for youth that is aligned with health education standards.

Do District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to train teachers and other school staff on how to respond to bullying incidents?

Yes. District of Columbia schools must provide training on bullying prevention to all employees on an annual basis.

Do District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to provide safeguards or mental health supports for students involved with bullying?

Yes. District of Columbia school policies must include a list of consequences that can result from bullying incidents, which are designed to correct the behavior, prevention another occurrence, and protect the target of bullying. The bullying task force must provide a referral list of community-based programs or similar resources that mitigate bullying and address identified behavioral health needs.

Do District of Columbia anti-bullying laws and regulations involve parents in efforts to address bullying behavior?

Yes. District of Columbia anti-bullying laws establish a bullying prevention task force that includes parent representatives. The task force is intended to engage parents and legal guardians in bullying prevention efforts.

For More Information

Visit the DC State Board of Education “Bullying Resources” webpage and/or view the District of Columbia district-wide model bullying prevention policy on bullying and harassment.

The key component framework used in the analysis of state laws is based on the review of legislation presented in the “Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies – December 2011” (U.S. Department of Education).

Content last updated on June 28, 2016