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Texas Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

Which Texas laws and regulations cover bullying?

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

Texas anti-bullying laws and regulations include the following definitions of bullying and cyberbullying:

“Bullying”:

    (A)  means a single significant act or a pattern of acts by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power and involves engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that satisfies the applicability requirements provided by Subsection (a-1), and that:

        (i)  has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property;

        (ii)  is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student;

        (iii) materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of a classroom or school; or

        (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; and

    (B)  includes cyberbullying.

“Cyberbullying” means bullying that is done through the use of any electronic communication device, including through the use of a cellular or other type of telephone, a computer, a camera, electronic mail, instant messaging, text messaging, a social media application, an Internet website, or any other Internet-based communication tool.

Tex. Educ. Code § 37.0832 (2017)

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

Yes. Texas anti-bullying laws cover off-campus conduct that occurs off school property or outside of a school-sponsored or school-related activity if the cyberbullying:

    (A) interferes with a student’s educational opportunities; or

    (B) substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a classroom, school, or school-sponsored or school-related activity.

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

Texas school districts are required to adopt a policy concerning bullying. School district policies must contain key policy and procedural elements, including, but not limited to:

  • Statements prohibiting bullying and retaliation;
  • Procedures for notifying parents or guardians of the alleged victim and the alleged bully;
  • Statements regarding actions a student should take to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying;
  • Statements regarding the available counseling options for a student who is a victim of or a witness to bullying or who engages in bullying;
  • Procedures for reporting and investigations;
  • Provisions related to disciplining of students with disabilities; and
  • Statements regarding how the district policy will be publicized within the district.

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

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

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

Yes. Texas anti-bullying laws encourage districts to establish a district-wide policy to assist in the prevention and mediation of bullying incidents between students that: (a) interfere with a student’s educational opportunities and (b) substantially disrupt the orderly operation of a classroom, school, or school-sponsored or school-related activity. Texas anti-bullying laws require school districts to include anti-bullying prevention in the district’s health education curriculum.

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

Yes. Texas anti-bullying law encourage districts to include information of preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying in district staff development programs.

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

Yes. Texas school district policies must establish the actions a student should take to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying and must set out the available counseling options for a student who is a victim of or a witness to bullying or who engages in bullying.

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

Yes. Texas school district policies must establish a procedure for providing notice of an incident of bullying to the parents or guardians of the alleged victim and the parents or guardians of the alleged bully within a specified timeframe.

For More Information

Visit the Texas Education Agency’s “Coordinated School Health: Bullying and Cyber-bullying” 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 20, 2017