Laws & Policies

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Laws, Policies & Regulations

State and local lawmakers have taken action to prevent bullying and protect children.1 Each jurisdiction, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories (state), addresses bullying differently.  Some have established laws, policies, and regulations.2 Others have developed model policies schools and local educational agencies (districts) can use as they develop their own local laws, policies and regulations. Most state laws, policies, and regulations require districts and schools to implement a bullying policy and procedures to investigate and respond to bullying when it occurs. A handful of states also require bullying prevention programs, inclusion of bullying prevention in health education standards, and/or teacher professional development. These state laws generally do not prescribe specific consequences for kids who engage in bullying behavior, and very few classify bullying as a criminal offense. Further, states may address bullying, cyberbullying, and related behaviors in a single law or across multiple laws. In some cases, bullying appears in the criminal code of a state that may apply to juveniles.

In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Education developed a framework of common components found in state laws, policies, and regulations focused on bullying at the time. The framework was used to describe how schools were taking action to prevent and respond to bullying incidents. The common components found in state laws, policies, and regulations – which have evolved over time – include definitions of bullying, defining characteristics that are commonly targeted for bullying behaviors, and detailed requirements for school district policies. The table below presents which set of components are addressed in each state’s laws, policies, and regulations, allowing for a quick comparison of how each state compares.  Click on your state below to find out more about your state’s anti-bullying laws and policies and which of the key components they contain.

Skip to Common Components

State Anti-Bullying Laws and Policies map of the United States and Territories

Common Components of State Anti-Bullying Laws and Regulations, by State

States

Prohibiting statement

Definition

Scope

Protected groups

District policy requirement

Reporting and investigations

Consequences

Communication of policy

Safeguards and supports

Review and update of local policies

Prevention education

Staff training

Parent engagement

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Alaska

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Arizona

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Arkansas

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California

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Colorado

 

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Connecticut

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Delaware

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District of Columbia

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Florida

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Georgia

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Guam

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Hawaii

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Idaho

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Illinois

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Indiana

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Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana

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Maine

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Maryland

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Massachusetts

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Michigan

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Minnesota

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Mississippi

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Missouri

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Montana

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Nebraska

 

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Nevada

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New Hampshire

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New Jersey

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New Mexico

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New York

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

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Ohio

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Oklahoma

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Puerto Rico

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Rhode Island

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South Carolina

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South Dakota

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Tennessee

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Texas

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Utah

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Vermont

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Virginia

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Washington

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West Virginia

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Wisconsin

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Wyoming

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  1. There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. In some cases, when bullying is based on race or ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion*, bullying overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it. Read more about when bullying overlaps with harassment and how to report it to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. See also Federal Laws.
  2. To better understand the distinction between law, policies and regulations, go to http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/tclc-fs-laws-policies-regs-commonterms-2015.pdf

State Anti-Bullying Laws and Policies AK AL AR AZ CA CO CT DE FL GA HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MS MT NC ND NE NH NJ NM NV NY OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VA VT WA WI WV WY CT DE MA MD NH NJ RI VT DC Commonwealths & Territories AS FM GU MH MP PR PW VI Key: Blue - Both Law and Policy Red - Laws Only Green - Policy Only Gray - No Data

Content last reviewed on January 07, 2018