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Tennessee Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

What are the Tennessee laws and regulations that cover bullying?

How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in Tennessee anti-bullying laws and regulations?

Tennessee anti-bullying laws and regulations include the following definitions of harassment, intimidation or bullying and cyberbullying:

“Harassment, intimidation or bullying" means any act that substantially interferes with a student's educational benefits, opportunities or performance; and:

(A)  If the act takes place on school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity, on school-provided equipment or transportation or at any official school bus stop, the act has the effect of:

    (i)  Physically harming a student or damaging a student's property;

    (ii)  Knowingly placing a student or students in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student's property;

    (iii)  Causing emotional distress to a student or students; or

    (iv)  Creating a hostile educational environment; or

(B)  If the act takes place off school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity, it is directed specifically at a student or students and has the effect of creating a hostile educational environment or otherwise creating a substantial disruption to the education environment or learning process.

“Cyber-bullying" means bullying undertaken through the use of electronic devices.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-4502 (2011)

Do Tennessee anti-bullying laws and regulations cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus?

Yes. Tennessee anti-bullying laws cover off-campus conduct if the behavior is directed at a student and has the effect of creating a hostile educational environment or a substantial disruption to the education environment or learning process.

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

Tennessee school districts are required to adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyber-bullying. District policies must contain key policy and procedural elements, including, but not limited to:

  • Statements prohibiting harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying;
  • Definitions of prohibited behavior and statements of scope indicating where and when the policy applies;
  • Procedures for reporting and investigations;
  • Statements of consequences for violation of the policy;
  • Statements of how the policy will be publicized within the district; and
  • Procedures for referring students to counseling and support services.

Tennessee state law encourages districts to review the policy at least once every three years and to transmit a copy to the Commissioner of Education.

Do Tennessee anti-bullying laws and regulations include protections for specific groups?

No. There are no specific groups listed under Tennessee anti-bullying laws or regulations.

Tennessee 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 Tennessee anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?

Yes. Tennessee school districts must make information on bullying prevention programs available to students and parents to promote awareness of the harmful effects of bullying and to permit discussion with respect to prevention policies and strategies.

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

Yes. Tennessee school districts are required to provide training to teachers and counselors regarding the policy and appropriate procedures relative to policy implementation.

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

Yes. Tennessee school district policies must include a procedure for referral to appropriate counseling and support services when deemed necessary. Counseling and support services may be conducted by school counseling personnel who are appropriately trained.

Do Tennessee anti-bullying laws and regulations involve parents in efforts to address bullying behavior?

Yes. Tennessee school districts are encouraged to develop policies in consultation with parents, school employees, students, and other members of the school community. School principals must also immediately inform parents or legal guardian when a student is involved in an act of harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying, and must inform parents about the availability of counseling and support services.

For More Information

Visit the Tennessee Department of Education’s “Bullying and Harassment” webpage and/or view the Tennessee state model 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 20, 2017