The Law and Psychology of Bullying

  • Lyndsay N. JenkinsEmail author
  • Michelle Kilpatrick Demaray
  • Nicole B. Dorio
  • Morgan Eldridge
Part of the Advances in Psychology and Law book series (APL, volume 4)


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.


Bullying Cyberbullying Anti-bullying legislation Bullying policy Harassment Peer conflict Civil rights 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lyndsay N. Jenkins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Kilpatrick Demaray
    • 2
  • Nicole B. Dorio
    • 2
  • Morgan Eldridge
    • 2
  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Psychology-Computer Science BuildingNorthern Illinois UniversityDekalbUSA

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