Bullying is defined as “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended
to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived
power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is
repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma.” This can include
telephonic or cyber bullying. Ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer
conflict is not considered bullying.
Bullying can also include what is known as assault and battery which is the
illegal approach and touching another individual without permission or
justification. The touching must be done in a rude, angry, insulting, or
vengeful way. The battery is the actual committing of a physical harm to the
person. Stalking can be another form of bullying where a person who, on more
than one occasion, engages in conduct directed at another person with the
intent to place that other person or the person’s family or household member,
in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury, or when they know or reasonably should know that the conduct places that other person
in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault or bodily injury.
How is bullying handled at school?
In school, bullying can be physical, verbal, or written, whether electronic or
Any person who threatens another bodily harm or death in writing, whether
electronically, or not, on school grounds or on a school bus regardless of
whether or not the proposed victim receives the threat could be found guilty
of a felony.
Any person who verbally threatens bodily harm or to kill to a school employee
at school, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event could be found
guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
What about bullying outside of school?
If you are touched by someone who purposely touches you without your
permission and without excuse or justification, he or she may have committed a
battery provided that the touching was done in a rude, angry, insulting, or
vengeful way. An assault does not have to include actual harm, but a battery
is the actual committing of a harm to a person. Assault is the approach to
attempt a battery (physical touching) or the failed attempt to commit a
battery. The person who commits an assault and/or battery can be found to be
guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If you are intentionally attacked due to
race, religious conviction, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual
orientation, color, or national origin, the actor of such an assault and
battery could face mandatory time in jail of at least six months. If an
assault and/or battery is against a law enforcement officer, you could
face a felony and jail time.
If you communicate in writing, including electronically, a threat to kill or
do bodily harm to a person or his or her family and the threat places such
person in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily harm for himself or
herself or for his or her family, the actor could be guilty of a felony.
If threats are communicated over the phone to you, that person communicating
the threats could be guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
When is it not bullying?
Everyone knows that we have First Amendment rights, and we are permitted to freely state our opinions, but there are limitations. If we cause others to feel fear of imminent physical harm, our speech may not be protected. The test is whether a reasonable person would feel fear due to the statements that are made.
What do I do about someone bullying me?
Call the police if the danger is immediate. You may wish to consult a lawyer
to see exactly how you should approach the matter. You can potentially also
take out a criminal warrant by contacting the magistrate in the county or city
where the act occurred. If the bullying occurs at school, contact a school
official or the school police officer.
What do I do if charges are brought against me?
Do not volunteer information to anyone without consulting a lawyer. By volunteering information, you may be incriminating yourself. A lawyer can give you legal guidance. Serious criminal charges can result, and your perspective may not be the way that others will view the case. If a confrontation resulted from the bullying, you may wish to consult a lawyer before considering bringing charges against the other individual.