What are the Georgia laws and regulations that cover bullying?
- Georgia Code Annotated §16-5-61. Hazing
- Georgia Code Annotated §20-2-145. Comprehensive character education program
- Georgia Code Annotated §20-2-751.4. Policies prohibiting bullying; assignment to alternative school; notice
- Georgia Code Annotated §20-2-751.5. Student codes of conduct; safety rules on school buses; distribution
- Georgia Code Annotated §20-2-751.6. Disciplinary policy for students committing acts of physical violence against teacher, school bus driver, or other school official or employee
- Georgia Code Annotated §20-2-1181. Disrupting operation of public school, school bus, or school bus stop; penalty; progressive discipline
- Georgia State Board of Education Administrative Rule No. 160-4-8-.15. Student Discipline
How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations?
Georgia anti-bullying laws include the following definitions of bullying and cyberbullying:
The term "bullying" means an act that is:
(1) Any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury on another person, when accompanied by an apparent present ability to do so;
(2) Any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm; or
(3) Any intentional written, verbal, or physical act which a reasonable person would perceive as being intended to threaten, harass, or intimidate, that:
(A) Causes another person substantial physical harm within the meaning of Code Section 16-5-23.1 or visible bodily harm as such term is defined in Code Section 16-5-23.1;
(B) Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education;
(C) Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or
(D) Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.
The term applies to acts which occur on school property, on school vehicles, at designated school bus stops, or at school related functions or activities or by use of data or software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, computer network, or other electronic technology of a local school system. The term also applies to acts of cyberbullying which occur through the use of electronic communication, whether or not such electronic act originated on school property or with school equipment, if the electronic communication (1) is directed specifically at students or school personnel, (2) is maliciously intended for the purpose of threatening the safety of those specified or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school, and (3) creates a reasonable fear of harm to the students' or school personnel's person or property or has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose.
Electronic communication includes but is not limited to any transfer of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system.
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.4 (2016)
Do Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus?
Yes. Georgia anti-bullying laws cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus if the electronic communication (1) is directed specifically at students or school personnel, (2) is maliciously intended for the purpose of threatening the safety of those specified or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school, and (3) creates a reasonable fear of harm to the students' or school personnel’s person or property or has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose.
What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?
Georgia school districts must adopt a policy that prohibits bullying of a student by another student. School district policies must contain key policy and procedural elements, including, but not limited to:
- Requirements that the district bullying policy be included in the student code of conduct;
- Requirements that a student in grades 6 through 12 who has committed the offense of bullying for the third time in a school year be assigned to an alternative school;
- Statements of how the policy will be publicized within the district; and
- Requirements to notify the parent or guardian upon finding that a student has committed an offense of bullying or is a victim of bullying.
Georgia school districts may additionally adopt components of the state model bullying policy, including statements prohibiting bullying and retaliation following a bullying report, reporting and investigation procedures, and consequences for bullying, including disciplinary actions or counseling, as appropriate. Georgia school districts that are not in compliance with the required components of the bullying policy are ineligible for state funding.
Do Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations include protections for specific groups?
No. There are no specific groups listed under Georgia anti-bullying laws or regulations.
Georgia 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 Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?
Yes. Georgia school districts must implement comprehensive character education programs for all grade levels that address methods of discouraging bullying.
Do Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to train teachers and other school staff on how to prevent or respond to bullying incidents?
No. Georgia anti-bullying laws do not require districts to provide training to teachers or other school staff on how to prevent or respond to bullying incidents. Georgia anti-bullying laws do require the Department of Education to develop and post on its website information regarding anti-bullying training programs and materials for use in local school systems.
Do Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to provide safeguards or mental health supports for students involved with bullying?
No. Georgia anti-bullying laws do not require districts to provide safeguards or mental health supports for students involved with bullying.
Do Georgia anti-bullying laws and regulations involve parents in efforts to address bullying behavior?
Yes. Georgia school districts must establish a method for notifying parents or legal guardians when a student has committed an offense of bullying or is a victim of bullying.
For More Information
Visit the Georgia Department of Education’s “Bullying Prevention Toolkit” webpage.
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 21, 2017