New Jersey assemblyman Jon Bramnick plans to submit legislation requiring schools to immediately notify parents if their child is accused of bullying. The state has some of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the nation, many of which were put into place after the death of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi in 2010.
Under New Jersey law, a child accused of bullying another student is subject to a school investigation, and if found guilty, is classified as a harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) violator. This classification may be transferred to the child’s state record and may come up when he or she applies to college. The only way to remove a HIB label is to argue against it in court.
The law is especially problematic because parents are not informed of the bullying allegations until the school’s investigation is over and the HIB label is in place. Assemblyman Bramnick believes that this “guilty until proven innocent” structure could be easily corrected by notifying parents as soon as their child has been accused. This change, which Bramnick will formally submit in the next month, gives parents the opportunity to meet with the school principal before a determination is made.
In addition to being handled at the school level, a bullying charge may be punished criminally. An alleged bully will most frequently be charged under New Jersey’s cyber harassment or stalking laws. A person convicted under either may face up to $10,000 in fines and 18 months behind bars.
If you or your child has been hit with a bullying accusation, contact an attorney to discuss your defense, such as whether the actions are protected under free speech or did not actually constitute a reasonable threat. Adam H. Rosenblum of the Rosenblum Law Firm is a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience handling bullying cases and other juvenile crimes in New Jersey. Email him or call 1-888-979-7551 for a free consultation today.