In an effort to
make schools safer, Illinois this year has enacted a bullying prevention statute that significantly
revises prior law. The new law creates an expanded definition of bullying, which includes
targeting victims with a different sexual orientation. In addition, the new law creates a task
force to study means for reducing bullying in schools.
The new law
prohibits bullying on the basis of “actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual
orientation, gender-related identity or expression, unfavorable discharge from military service,
association with a person or group with one or more of the aforementioned actual or perceived
characteristics or any other distinguishing characteristics.” (105 ILCS
stating that students may not be bullied on school grounds, the school bus or at school-sponsored
events, the new law reaches into cyberspace by prohibiting bullying through the use of a school
computer or network. The new law also expands coverage to private schools.
The new statute
further defines bullying as “any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct,
including communications made in writing or electronically that can be reasonably expected” to
place the student in fear of their person or property, cause a substantial detrimental effect to
their physical or mental health, or substantially interfere with their academic performance or
ability to participate in school activities. (105 ILCS 5/27-23.7(b).)
The new law
creates a School Bullying Prevention Task Force to examine the causes and consequences of
bullying. The Task Force seeks to identify promising methods to reduce the problem and must
outline training and technical assistance opportunities for schools to effectively address bullying
and re-evaluate their current anti-bullying programs. The Task Force must submit its report to
the Governor and General Assembly by March 1, 2011. (105 ILCS 5/27-23.9)
If you have
been charged with bullying or have other related questions, please feel free to contact Matt Keenan
at 847-568-0160 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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