The “Epidemic” Of Bullying
Is there really such a thing? The Obama admin calls bullying an “epidemic” and a “pandemic.” At DC Scotus Examiner, Hans Bader, Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes, per Justice Dept. studies, that bullying has actually gone down.
Bader notes that the Associated Press noted a “sharp drop” in the percentage of kids being bullied beaten up by their peers, and a New York Times story called the panic over bullying by girls “a hoax.” Bader writes:
If bullying has gone down, how can it be a pandemic? By broadening the definition of bullying to include speech and vague power relationships.
The anti-bullying website nobully.com defines even “eye rolling” as bullying, so if you roll your eyes at a bully, you yourself can be accused of “bullying.” Its ridiculously-broad definition has been adopted by schools like Fox Hill and Alvarado Elementary, which define “eye rolling” and “staring” as “bullying.” As a small middle-schooler, I rolled my eyes at bullies. A recent survey defined bullying to include “the use of one’s . . . popularity to . . . embarrass another person on purpose.”
A student can even be deemed guilty of “bullying” for not inviting a hostile classmate to her birthday party, since social “exclusion” is considered bullying (even though forcing children to invite unwanted guests to their birthday party can violate their right to free association). As a bullying victim noted in response to an article about such broad anti-bullying policies, “as someone who was frequently bullied as a youth, this policy would have required me to invite my own bullies to my birthday party. That sounds exceedingly miserable.”
Forty-five states “have laws requiring public schools to adopt anti-bullying policies,” but there’s no federal law against bullying, in general. That hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from trying to federalize anti-bullying policy. Its StopBullying.gov website defines “teasing” as a form of “bullying,” and “rude” or “hurtful” “text messages” as “cyberbullying.” Since “creating web sites” that “make fun of others” also is deemed “cyberbullying,” conservative websites that poke fun at the president are presumably guilty of cyberbullying under this strange definition. (Law professors like UCLA’s Eugene Volokh have criticized bills by liberal lawmakers like Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) that would ban some criticism of politicians as cyberbullying.)
School bullying can only violate existing federal law if it involves racial or sexual harassment. Moreover, harassment by students violates federal law only if it’s condoned by school officials, and is severe and pervasive. In its 1999 decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that schools can be sued “only where they are deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment, of which they have actual knowledge, that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.” As it emphasized, “Damages are not available for simple acts of teasing and name-calling,” nor are they available for even “severe one-on-one peer harassment” if it occurs just a “single” time.