What are the Rhode Island laws and regulations that cover bullying?
- Rhode Island General Laws §16-21-21. Student discipline codes
- Rhode Island General Laws §16-21-24. Requirements of school safety plans, school emergency response plans, and school crisis response plans
- Rhode Island General Laws §16-21-33. Safe schools act
- Rhode Island General Laws §16-21-34. Statewide bullying policy implemented
- 200 Code of Rhode Island Rules 020-10-1 Basic Education Program
- 200 Code of Rhode Island Rules 030-10-2 Safe School Act – Statewide Bullying Policy
- 216 Code of Rhode Island Rules 020-10-4 School Health Programs
How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations?
Rhode Island anti-bullying laws include the following definitions of bullying and cyberbullying:
“Bullying” means the use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof directed at a student that:
a. Causes physical or emotional harm to the student or damage to the student's property;
b. Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property;
c. Creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or abusive educational environment for the student;
d. Infringes on the rights of the student to participate in school activities; or
e. Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
The expression, physical act or gesture may include, but is not limited to, an incident or incidents that may be reasonably perceived as being motivated by characteristics such as: race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or mental, physical, or sensory disability, intellectual ability or by any other distinguishing characteristic.
“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, texting or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, Internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.
Forms of cyber-bullying may include but are not limited to:
a. The creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person;
b. The knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages; or
c. The distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of materials on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the creation, impersonation, or distribution results in any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (a) to (e) of the definition of bullying.
200 RICR 030-10-2 (2012)
Do Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus?
Yes. Rhode Island anti-bullying laws do not cover off-campus conduct.
What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?
Rhode Island school districts must adopt the statewide bullying policy to ensure a consistent and unified approach to the prohibition of bullying at school. The statewide policy applies to all schools and must contain the following:
- Statements prohibiting bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation at school;
- Procedures for reporting, investigations, and response;
- Disciplinary consequences that balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior, including a parental engagement strategy and a provision that limits use of suspension;
- Procedures for restoring a sense of safety for the victim and assessing a victim’s need for protection;
- Procedures for notifying the parent and guardians of a victim and a perpetrator, including notification of any actions taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation;
- Strategies for protecting from bullying or retaliation a person who reports bullying or who has reliable information about an act of bullying;
- Designation of a principal or designee to be responsible for implementation of the bullying policy;
- Statements of how the policy will be publicized within the district; and
- Strategies for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services being offered by schools or communities.
Do Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations include protections for specific groups?
Rhode Island anti-bullying laws prohibit bullying that includes, but is not limited to, an incident or incidents that may be reasonably perceived as being motivated by characteristics such as: race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or mental, physical, or sensory disability, intellectual ability or by any other distinguishing characteristic.
Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?
Yes. Rhode Island school districts must prevent and respond appropriately to incidents of bullying and must promote nonviolent conflict resolution techniques in order to encourage attitudes and behaviors that foster harmonious relations.
Do Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to train teachers and other school staff on how to respond to bullying incidents?
Yes. Rhode Island school districts are required to provide professional development, training, resources, and other means to assist students, staff, and other adults in the school building or at school sponsored activities in carrying out the responsibilities prescribed by the statewide bullying policy.
Do Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to provide safeguards or mental health supports for students involved with bullying?
Yes. Rhode Island anti-bullying laws require districts to provide referrals to appropriate counseling and/or social services currently being offered by schools or communities shall be provided for bullying victims, perpetrators and appropriate family members of said students. School district policies must include clear procedures for restoring a sense of safety for a victim and assessing that victim's needs for protection.
Do Rhode Island anti-bullying laws and regulations involve parents in efforts to address bullying behavior?
Yes. The Rhode Island statewide bullying policy includes procedures for promptly notifying the parents or guardians of a victim and a perpetrator and about any action taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation. The statewide bullying policy also includes a parent engagement strategy related to disciplining students who bully.
For More Information
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 20, 2017