School Bullying in Virginia

High school students being bullied.

Imagine your child being bullied in school by another student; remember this could be a high school student.  Your child is called names and mocked, walks through the halls listening to verbal abuse, embarrassed because other students are watching but terrified of being caught alone by the bully. That is assault, and if a teacher sees this occurring to your child day after day, it is not to be reported to the principal or to you.

Legally assault, but not a reportable incident in school.

Suppose this bully walks beside your child down the hallway, bumping your child against the lockers. Suppose the bully’s face is so close saliva sprays on your child’s face, who is too afraid to move and silently praying for someone to intervene. That is assault and battery, with no bodily injury. Teachers can see this happening to your child day after day, with no recourse because it is not to be reported to the principal. Or to you.

Legally battery, but not a reportable incident in school

since your child has no bodily injury.

House Bill 257 has passed the House, now goes to the Senate. If passed, in Virginia schools, assault, or assault with battery but without bodily injury, will no longer be a reportable incident. No report is to be made to the principal, the superintendent, or parents.  If assault and battery are crimes for adults, why would it not even be reported to the principal? Why change the current law?

  • Assault is an intentional act that causes another person to fear that he/she is about to suffer physical harm.  For adults, this allows police officers to intervene and make an arrest without waiting for the assaulter to actually strike the victim. For our school students, our legislators say tell no one, not even the principal or parents!
  • Assault and battery means the aggressor physically strikes or offensively touches the victim.  For an adult, spitting in a person’s face is enough unwanted contact to support an assault and battery conviction. For our school children through high school, if the physical contact doesn’t cause bodily harm, in is not to be reported to the principal or parents.

We hear cries across the country to stop school bullying, yet schools across the country are implementing laws and regulations to protect the perpetrator rather than the victim. Innocent children expected to bear the unbearable. Why would any legislator put us on the path that resulted in the suicide of an 8 year old boy, because the school ignored his being bullied?

HB 257 passed the House with bipartisan support. Did your delegate vote YES? Check here and if so, ask why! If you get a response share in the comments. Call your Senator and beg them to vote NO and keep this bill off Governor Northam’s desk.

Please share this post with your friends- let’s stop this bill together.

6 thoughts on “School Bullying in Virginia”

    1. I wouldn’t publish a picture sent to me without the permission of everyone in the photo. That picture is publicly available online, and it perfectly illustrates assault and battery without bodily harm. I appreciate your concern, thanks for asking.

      Like

  1. Assuming that this is not mal-intended and is more a matter of not thinking through unintended consequences (I hope!), do you know what the rationale was for the change? It seems like an awful idea to me. Schools already under report and inadequately deal with bullying, in my opinion. Any insight you may have on how and why this came to be would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comment and your concern. These changes to school discipline have been promoted for years. The reasoning is that minority and disabled children are disciplined more frequently than other students, and having charges brought against a child is a negative influence. Many believe the best way to solve this disparity is to reduce the number of actions that could result in discipline or legal action, such as disorderly conduct, assault, and assault without bodily harm. While I do not believe the intent is malicious, it is terribly misguided and there are better solutions. In Virginia a major proponent is Legal Aid Justice Center, through its program called Just Children. In 2018 LAJC issued a legal brief asking for disorderly conduct charges to not be applicable to students. Legislation has been proposed, which I covered in three blog posts. Removing discipline for assault and assault and battery is the next step. I’ll do another update post on both bills soon, and will include links to background material.

      Like

    1. Thank you for taking time to read the bill, they can be confusing! HB257 is an amendment to current law, so what you are reading is the current law with the proposed changes indicated. Text the bill will remove is stricken out by a line through, so you can still read it. Text the bill will add is written in italics.
      Look as section 22.1-279.3:1, part A which reads “Reports shall be made to the division superintendent and to the principal or his designee on all incidents involving (i) the assault or assault and battery, without bodily injury, of any person on a school bus, on school property, or at a school sponsored activity.” This is followed by a list of other incidents to be reported.
      HB257 strikes out the entire (i) entry, meaning assault or assault and battery without bodily harm will be removed from the list of incidents to be reported. Assault and battery that does result in bodily injury remains, #2 in the list, so if the victim suffers bodily injury that incident is to be reported.
      If this explanation in not clear, I will gladly write a post and insert pictures of the current law and the proposed law in HB257. Thank you very much for asking, as probably many readers had the same question.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s