PHOENIX - Arizona’s anti-bullying law is lax, according to some legal experts.
The law requires schools to enforce policies to prohibit bullying. It states school districts need to have written policies to prohibit bullying and also procedures on how to deal with a bullying situation.
Education Attorney Hope Kirsch says there’s no enforcement to make sure schools are following the law and no penalties if they break it.
“We have the Arizona Department of Education but you can't report to them,” said Kirsch. “There's nothing they can do if a school fails to comply with the law.”
The Arizona Board of Education says it's not their responsibility to enforce or make sure districts follow the law. At the end of the day, it’s the voters who hold the governing boards responsible.
“There’s no dollar attached to it,” said Attorney Kirsch. “It has no teeth.”
Kirsch says private schools don’t have to follow the same law. However, many have taken preemptive measures to get ahead of the problem.
Saint Agnes Catholic School in Phoenix says it has policies in place to deal with the issue.
They say it “opposes and prohibits all forms of harassment, including bullying.”
They school says it ensures students’ safety by “setting age-appropriate behavior expectations through our “Student Learning Expectations” and “Discipline with a Purpose” programs.
Kirsch says if your child is being bullied and you can't get a response from the school, check your school's handbook.
Kirsch says once you understand how the issue should be handled – you can challenge it.
Here are some signs your child is being bullied:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Declining grades or loss of interest in school
On the flip side, a child may be bullying others if:
- They become increasingly aggressive
- Have friends who bully others
- Blame others for their problems
- Don't accept responsibility for their actions