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NC Education Lawyer Blog

  • Writer's pictureCharmaine Neves

Bullying: What is the law in NC?

Bullying can be defined as aggressive behavior characterized by intentional and repeated injury or discomfort to another person over a period of time, according to the American Psychological Association ("APA"). The different ways of bullying include physical contact, verbal attacks, or more subtle actions. Cyberbullying is becoming more predominant and includes verbally threatening or harassing behavior controlled through technology like cell phones, email, and social media. Any behavior that makes a student fear for their safety or the safety of their belongings; or creating a hostile environment that makes it difficult for a student to learn or participate in the school environment, is seen as bullying.


The anti-bullying laws in North Carolina prohibit bullying behavior motivated by apparent distinctive appearances including race, color, religion ancestry, national origin, gender, socioeconomic status, academic status, gender identity, physical appearance, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disability, or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics.


Federal law prescribes that discrimination based on certain personal characteristics is addressed for those schools in North Carolina receiving federal funding. The promotion of

school environments that are free of bullying or harassing behavior is encouraged and school districts are required to develop and implement methods and strategies supporting this.


Under North Carolina law, students receive legal protections against bullying if incidents occur at school, on the bus, or at a school-sponsored event. It further requires that every charter school and public school district have a formal, written policy and procedure for investigating and taking action to address reports of bullying and harassment.


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