Bullying in Our Schools, Illinois Anti-Bullying Laws & Punishments
When a child is harassed or bullied at school, the results can be tragic; some bullied children have been driven to suicide. Bad outcomes, such as depression, increased absences from school, and lack of school engagement, increase significantly as the number of personal characteristics involved in bullying increases.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves using a power imbalance to control or harm others. Bullying is any action that:
- Causes a student to fear harm
- Harms a student’s physical or mental health
- Affects a student’s grades, class participation, or participation in school activities.
In an effort to stop bullying, Illinois has passed laws requiring every public school district and each non-sectarian private elementary and secondary school to adopt and enforce an anti-bullying policy. Policies must prohibit bullying at school, including bullying through electronic communication devices.
If you or your child has been charged with bullying offenses, the situation is taken seriously, and punishments can be severe. You need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is fully dedicated to protecting your interests. At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., our experienced and compassionate Illinois defense lawyers provide aggressive representation for individuals facing bullying or harassment charges. We offer a free consultation to examine every aspect of your situation to find ways to reduce your charges or have them dismissed.
What the Laws Say
There are Illinois laws and regulations that cover bullying, harassment, intimidation, and cyberbullying. The following characteristics are listed and protected under Illinois anti-bullying laws:
- National origin
- 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 these or other distinguishing characteristics.
In addition, while federal laws do not directly address bullying, in many cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment and is covered under federal civil rights laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Anyone can report incidents of bullying and harassing conduct to a school. The school is then obligated to take steps to investigate and resolve the situation, end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment, prevent harassment from recurring, and prevent retaliation. What action the school takes depends on the facts of each case.
Bullying and harassment in schools is taken seriously and can be a misdemeanor or, in some situations, even a felony. Penalties in Illinois depend on the circumstances of the case.
- Interfering with a child’s attendance at school, including interference by threats or harassment, is a Class A misdemeanor. (105 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/22-12.)
- Conviction of a Class A misdemeanor can bring under one year’s imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-55.)
- Cyberstalking — In Illinois, cyberstalking involves using an electronic device to harass another on at least two separate occasions (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-7.5.). Cyberstalking is a Class 4 felony and conviction can mean imprisonment of 1-3 years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § § 5/5-4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-50.)
Criminal Attorneys Aggressive In Your Defense
Every bullying situation is different, with varying underlying facts and circumstances. If you or your child has been charged with any of these offenses, you need legal counsel to advise you on the best defense for your individual case.
The Illinois seasoned bullying and harassment defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., are skilled trial lawyers with extensive experience handling complex criminal cases. Our team is trusted and respected in the community. When we take on a criminal case, we gather information quickly and look at all viable defense options. Based on the facts of the case, we make a decision about a legal strategy and pursue it vigorously.
We know the judges and the court system and will aggressively explore every avenue for your defense. We work hand in hand with our clients, explaining all elements of the case and the processes involved in an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
Don’t delay — contact us for a free consultation today if you have been accused of any bullying or harassment charges at 630-305-0222. We represent clients in DuPage County, Will County, Cook County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.