Bullying is one of the worst epidemics affecting American students today. The impact that bullying and cyberbullying can have on the mental health of our youth can be devastating and in the worst-case scenarios — fatal. Lawmakers can no longer turn a blind eye to the changes that must happen to protect the spirit and minds of our young people.
Many bullied students suffer in silence, unable to share what’s going on with their parents and other adults in their lives. But, the school staff and administrators should be on the lookout for this type of harm and prepared to immediately inform the child’s parents of any issues. It takes a village, and that starts with open communication.
Fortunately, we are beginning to see lawmakers respond to this call to action in a new Illinois anti-bullying policy. In May 2023, the Senate passed House Bill 3425, which updated the Illinois School Code. Here’s a look at some important changes that were made that will take effect in the 2024-2025 school year.
In This Article:
- Parents Must Be Informed Within 24 Hours
- New Definition of “Policy of Bullying”
- Submitting Data on Bullying
- More Access to Bullying Records for Parents
- What to Do If You Find Out Your Child is Being Bullied
Parents Must Be Informed Within 24 Hours
Before this recent anti-bullying bill was passed, schools were simply required to “promptly” inform parents that their children are being bullied. However the definition of “prompt” was vague and open to interpretation. The new anti-bullying policy now mandates a more specific timeline. Schools must notify the student’s parents within 24 hours of becoming aware of any bullying behavior.
Additionally, in the new Illinois anti-bullying policy schools must follow specific guidelines when notifying the parents or legal guardians when bullying involves threats or instances of self-harm. Schools and parents must work together and communicate openly as soon as bullying is discovered. Reducing the amount of time that goes by before this happens can make a huge difference in kipping the problem in the bud.
No child should suffer alone and in silence for months or even years before something is done to protect them. The hope is that this new law is a step in the right direction to pull bullying out of the shadows and into the light sooner rather than later.
New Definition of “Policy of Bullying”
One of the key updates is the expansion of the definition of bullying to include physical appearance, socioeconomic status, pregnancy, parenting status, academic status, and homelessness. By broadening the scope of what constitutes bullying, the new code takes a proactive approach to address the many ways students face harassment and mistreatment in school.
Bullying comes in many different forms. Note that the new policy does include forms of cyberbullying as well. Under this new definition, the aim is for more students to be protected from harmful bullying that may easily go unnoticed.
Submitting Data on Bullying
Schools are expected to base their own prevention policies on the State Board of Education’s anti-bullying model, ensuring consistency and providing a framework for effective anti-bullying measures. Moreover, school districts are now required to collect, maintain, and submit non-identifiable data on allegations and instances of bullying to the State Board of Education.
Knowledge is power and a better understanding of the prevalence and patterns of bullying within districts will help schools develop more targeted interventions and support for their students.
School districts, charter schools, and non-public, non-sectarian elementary and secondary schools must submit data on bullying in an annual report. This report must be turned in to the State Board of Education no later than August 15th of each year( as opposed to June 1 in previous years).
More Access to Bullying Records for Parents
To help stop bullying, parents must be informed. The updated code emphasizes transparency and accountability by granting parents or legal guardians the right to request non-identifiable data on bullying allegations and incidents from the State Board of Education. This provision allows parents to access information about bullying trends within their child’s school district, empowering them to be proactive in advocating for their child’s well-being.
What to Do If You Find Out Your Child is Being Bullied or Cyberbullied
If you find out that your child is being bullied, it’s best to take immediate action and schedule a meeting with the school as soon as possible. You should also:
- document anything your child tells you or any signs you noticed at home.
- seek support services such as counseling for your child.
- work with the school on a solution.
- encourage resilience and self-care tactics.
However, if you notice that the bullying is severe, the school is not taking proper measures to intervene, or the bullying takes place outside of school (i.e. cyberbullying), it may be time to contact a lawyer who is an expert in bullying laws. A lawyer can help you and your child understand your rights and can offer the strong hand needed to stop the harassment.
At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we are passionate about ending bullying in Chicago schools and throughout all of Illinois. We are on your side. Contact us today for a FREE consultation. Call (312) 600-6000.