The Law and Psychology of Bullying
Decades of research have shown the range of negative outcomes associated with bullying and cyberbullying, and it is a topic that has received national attention from media, educators, parents, researchers, and legislators. The goal of this chapter is to describe current laws related to bullying and cyberbullying, examine existing research about the social and emotional characteristics of bullies and victims, and present a discussion of the interaction between law and the psychology of bullying. Preliminary research suggests that most anti-bullying legislation has limited effectiveness in reducing bullying. Though the most extreme bullying behavior (e.g., assault, robbery) is already a punishable crime, there is great difficulty in further criminalizing bullying. For example, there are challenges with defining bullying and in determining when an aggressive behavior is no longer developmentally appropriate. Although existing legislation has produced underwhelming results and criminalizing bullying is an uphill battle, the authors nevertheless conclude that bullying laws are important and are an area of future development. More importantly, there needs to be legislation that focuses on not just requiring schools to have a bullying intervention plan, but also requiring social and emotional learning programs at all grade levels that can prevent bullying and/or reduce its severity.
KeywordsBullying Cyberbullying Anti-bullying legislation Bullying policy Harassment Peer conflict Civil rights
- American Educational Research Association. (2013). Prevention of bullying in schools, colleges, and universities: Research report and recommendations. Washington, D.C: American Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
- Brank, E. M., Kucera, S. C., & Hays, S. A. (2005). Parental responsibility statutes: An organization and policy implications. Journal of Law and Family Studies, 7, 1–55.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. (2006). Social, emotional, ethical, and academic education: Creating a climate for learning, participation in democracy, and well-being. Harvard Educational Review, 76, 201–237. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.76.2.j44854x1524644vn.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cole, D. A., Maxwell, M. A., Dukewich, T. L., & Yosick, R. (2010). Targeted peer victimization and the construction of positive and negative self-cognitions: Connections to depressive symptoms in children. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39, 421–435. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374411003691776.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Copeland, W. E., Wolke, D., Angold, A., & Costello, E. J. (2013). Adult psychiatric outcomes of bullying and being bullied by peers in childhood and adolescence. Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, 70, 419–426. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Davidson, L. M., & Demaray, M. K. (2007). Social support as a moderator between victimization and internalizing-externalizing distress from bullying. School Psychology Review, 36, 383–405.Google Scholar
- Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629. (1999). Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/526/629/case.html.
- Didden, R., Scholte, R. H. J., Korzilius, H., de Moor, J. M. H., Vermeulen, A., O’Reilly, M., et al. (2009). Cyberbullying among students with intellectual and developmental disability in special education settings. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 12, 146–151. https://doi.org/10.1080/17518420902971356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- D.J.M. v. Hannibal Public School District #60, 647 F.3d 754. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/222198/djm-v-hannibal-public-school-dist-no-60/.
- Donato, I. (2014, September 3). Bullying, harassment, & civil rights [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog/2014/09/03/new-video-resource-bullying-harassment-civil-rights.html.
- Dupuy, B. (2017). A crime to be mean? Cities make bullying against the law by punishing parents. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/cities-criminalizing-bullying-donald-trump-melania-trump-684206.
- Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.14678624.2010.01564.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Frey, A. J., Lingo, A., & Nelson, C. M. (2011). Implementing positive behavior support in elementary schools. In M. R. Shinn & H. M. Walker (Eds.), Interventions for achievement and behavior problems in a three-tier model, including RTI (pp. 397–434). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.Google Scholar
- Gladden, R. M., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Hamburger, M. E., & Lumpkin, C. D. (2014). Bullying surveillance among youths: Uniform definitions for public health and recommended data elements, version 1.0. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-definitions-final-a.pdf.
- Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Schwab-Reese, L., Ranapurwala, S. I., Hertz, M. F., & Ramirez, M. R. (2015). Associations between antibullying policies and bullying in 25 states. Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, 169, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.2411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jansen, D. E., Veenstra, R., Ormel, J., Verhulst, F. C., & Reijneveld, S. A. (2011). Early risk factors for being a bully, victim, or bully/victim in late elementary and early secondary education. The longitudinal TRAILS study. BMC Public Health, 11, 440–447. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-11-440.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District, 807 A.2d 803. (2002). Retrieved from http://caselaw.findlaw.com/pa-commonwealth-court/1356600.html.
- Kara Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools, Manny P. Arvon, II, Ronald Stephens, Becky J. Harden, Rick Deuell, Defendants-Appellees. (2011). Retrieved from http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-4th-circuit/1575495.html.
- Kelly, E. V., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L. A., Slade, T., Barrett, E. L., Conrod, P. J., et al. (2015). Suicidality, internalizing problems and externalizing problems among adolescent bullies, victims and bully-victims. Prevention Medicine, 73, 100–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j-ypmed.2015.01.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., & Diaz, E. M. (2009). The 2009 National school climate survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools.Google Scholar
- Lambe, L. J., Hudson, C. C., Craig, W. M., & Pepler, D. (2017). Does defending come with a cost? Examining the psychosocial correlates of defending behavior among bystanders of bullying in a Canadian sample. Child Abuse and Neglect, 65, 112–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.01.012.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Marini, Z. A., Dane, A. V., Bosacki, S. L., & Cura, Y. L. C. (2006). Direct and indirect bully victims: Differential psychosocial risk factors associated with adolescents involved in bullying and victimization. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 551–569. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McCormack, J., Harrison, L. J., McLeod, S., & McAllister, L. (2011). A nationally representative study of the association between communication impairment at 4–5 years and children’s life activities at 7–9 years. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 54, 1328–1348. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0155.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Petrosino, A., Guckenburg, S., DeVoe, J., & Hanson, T. (2010). What characteristics of bullying, bullying victims, and schools are associated with increased reporting of bullying to school officials? (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2010–No. 092). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.
- Pöyhönen, V., & Salmivalli, C. (2008). New directions in research and practice addressing bullying: Focus on defending behavior. In W. Craig (Ed.), An international perspective on understanding and addressing bullying (Vol. 1, pp. 6–43). PREVNet publication series.Google Scholar
- Raikes, H. A., Virmani, E. A., Thompson, R. A., & Hatton, H. (2013). Declines in peer conflict from preschool through first grade: Influences from early attachment and social information processing. Attachment & Human Development, 15, 65–82. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2012.728381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., Boelen, P. A., Van der Schoot, M., & Telch, M. J. (2011). Prospective linkages between peer victimization and externalizing problems in children: A meta-analysis. Aggressive Behavior, 37, 215–222. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20374.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Reiter, S., & Lapidot-Lefler, N. (2007). Bullying among special education students with intellectual disabilities: Differences in social adjustment and social skills. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 45, 174–181. https://doi.org/10.1352/19349556%282007%2945%5B174:BASESW%5D2.0.CO;2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Rose, C. A. (2011). Bullying among students with disabilities: Impact and implications. In D. Espelage & S. Swearer (Eds.), Bullying in North American schools (2nd ed., pp. 34–44). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Rose, C. A., Espelage, D. L., Aragon, S. R., & Elliott, J. M. (2011). Bullying and victimization among students in special education and general education curricula. Exceptionality Education International, 21, 2–14. Retrieved from http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/eei/vol21/iss3/2.
- Rudolph, K. D., Troop-Gordon, W., Hessel, E. T., & Schmidt, J. D. (2011). A latent growth curve analysis of early and increasing peer victimization as predictors of mental health across elementary school. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40, 111–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2011.533413.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Salmivalli, C., Lagerspetz, K., Bjorkqvist, K., Ostreman, K., & Kaukianien, A. (1996). Bullying as a group process: Participant roles and their relations to social status within the group. Aggressive Behavior, 22, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(1996)22:1%3C1:AID-AB1%3E3.0.CO;2-T.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sanetti, L. M. H., & Kratochwill, T. R. (2009). Toward developing a science of treatment integrity: Introduction to the special series. School Psychology Review, 38, 445–459.Google Scholar
- Sullivan, D. (2011). DA Sullivan’s statement at May 5 press conference on Phoebe Prince Case. Retrieved from https://www.northwesternda.org/news/da-sullivans-statement-may-5-press-conference-phoebe-prince-case.
- Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, 393 U.S. 503. (1969). Retrieved from https://www.csustan.edu/sites/default/files/CJ/JJustice/CaseFiles/Tinker-v-Des-Moines.pdf.
- T.K. and S.K. v. New York City Department of Education, 779 F.Supp.2d 289. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20110427a78.
- T.V. v. Smith-Green Community School Corporation. (2011). Retrieved from https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/districtcourts/indiana/inndce/1:2009cv00290/59912/53/.
- Twyman, K. A., Saylor, C. F., Saia, D., Macias, M. M., Taylor, L. A., & Spratt, E. (2010). Bullying and ostracism experiences in children with special health care needs. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 31, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181c828c8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- United States Department of Education. (2013). Dear colleague letters enclosure: Effective evidence-based practices for preventing and addressing bullying. Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service. (2011). Analysis of state bullying laws and policies, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
- Veenstra, R., Lindenberg, S., Oldehinkel, A. J., De Winter, A. F., Verhulst, F. C., & Ormel, J. (2005). Bullying and victimization in elementary schools: A comparison of bullies, victims, bully/victims, and uninvolved preadolescents. Developmental Psychology, 41, 672–682. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.522.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar