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Massachusetts law about bullying and cyberbullying

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on bullying and cyberbullying law by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.71, s.37O Bullying in Schools
MGL c.12, s.11H Violation of Constitutional Rights
MGL c.265 s.43 Stalking
MGL c.265, s.43A Criminal Harassment
MGL c.266, s.37E Identity Fraud
MGL c.269, s.17 Hazing
MGL c.269, s.18 Failure to Report Hazing
MGL c.269, s.19 Schools to provide copy of hazing law to students

Massachusetts regulations

603 CMR 33 Hazing reporting - secondary schools

603 CMR 49 Notification of bullying or retaliation

610 CMR 5 Hazing reporting - higher education

Selected case law

Cormier v. City of Lynn, 479 Mass. 35 (2018)
Even where a defendant city "could have and should have done more" to protect a student from bullying, and their inaction resulted in the child being severely injured during a bullying incident, the Mass. Tort Claims Act bars a suit against the city and its employees where they did not "originally cause" the situation.


Massachusetts ICAC Task Force
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program was created to help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the internet, online communication systems, or other computer technology to sexually exploit children.

Web sources

Bullying, Mass. Legal Services.

Compilation of Massachusetts bullying law resources

Bullying, UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools.
An extensive list of links to resources on bullying for teachers, parents, law enforcement, and anyone else interested in the topic. Great resource!

Bullying and Cyberbullying, Mass. Attorney General
Suggests "Advise your child that cyberbullying may be a criminal offense. Electronically-communicated threats and willfully and maliciously directing electronic communications at a specific person that seriously alarm that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress are crimes."

Children's Issues Series: Anti-Bullying Laws, Mass. Legal Services.
Provides information on state and federal laws in a question and answer format.

Cyberbullying Can Have Deadly Consequences, Attorney Millie Anne Cavanaugh
Briefly discusses civil and criminal legal options for victims and their families.

Direct From the Field: A Guide to Bullying Prevention, Mass. Dept. of Public Health
This 123-page publication has been provided to every school district in Massachusetts. The guide is intended to help schools develop bullying-prevention programs.

Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan under M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education
"We recommend that districts and schools use this model plan as a blueprint for developing their own plans that align with their individual school climate initiatives and needs." Model plan is in both PDF and Word format.

Students' Rights in Massachusetts , GLAD, February 2014
Questions & answers on discrimination in public schools on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression

Massachusetts Students: What to Do If You're Being Bullied , GLAD, March 2014
"If you are being bullied and your school is not protecting you, your school is not following the law." Despite the title, this publication doesn't provide "what to do" advice, but does provide a great summary of the law's key points.

Recommendations from the Review of Laws Regarding Bullying in Massachusetts: Report to the Massachusetts General Court . Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commission to Review Statutes Relative to Implementation of the School Bullying Law, June 2011.
Provides 7 recommendations to improve bullying prevention efforts in the Commonwealth

Print sources

The Authority of Massachusetts Educators to Combat Bullying, Cyber Bullying & Sexting On and Off School Property: the intersection of the school disciplinary code & the criminal justice system, by Patrick Michael Rogers. Commonwealth Police Service, 2010.

Bullying and Social Aggression, by Steve Breakstone and Michael Drieblatt. Lorman Education Services, 2007.

"Fighting Back Against 'Bullying' in the Workplace," by Noah Schaffer, Mass. Lawyers Weekly, January 8, 2007. (2007 WLNR 1250779)

School bullying and harassment : a legal primer, by Richard W. Cole. NBI, Inc., 2012

School Law Guide: Legal Compliance Made Simple, NBI, 2007

School Law in Massachusetts, by Rhoda E. Schneider, MCLE loose-leaf. Includes a sample anti-harassment policy for schools.

Working with Children with Special Needs, MCLE, 2015



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: April 18, 2018


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