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Is bullying illegal in New Jersey?

Bullying among children and young people has been a problem forever. Parents often spend time trying to teach their children how to stand up to bullies and deal with these issues at school.

Since bullying has become increasingly common, states have started taking a bit stronger stance against it. It's no longer an accepted part of growing up. In New Jersey, anti-bullying laws make it illegal.

This extends further than physical altercations. Other than the term "bullying" itself, the law uses the key terms "harassment" and "intimidation."

These offer the law a far broader scope. A child who is threatened into giving away his lunch money every day is still clearly being intimidated, even if no one harms him. Another student who faces constant insults in the halls between class is being harassed, even though she never fears physical assaults.

The law also covers cyberbullying. Many children growing up right now cannot remember a world without social media and frequent online interactions. That's how they connect with their peers. It's a fundamental part of growing up.

When they get bullied online, though adults may just tell them to delete their profiles and ignore it, getting away from the harassment does not feel so easy to these young people. What their peers may think is just harmless behavior could be interpreted as bullying under these new laws.

Kids may face very real legal ramifications and charges if they're involved in any type of bullying. When this happens, it is incredibly important for them and their parents to know all of the options they have, especially when they never realized their actions were illegal.

Source: Stop Bullying, "New Jersey Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies," accessed May 10, 2018

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