Massachusetts law about bullying and cyberbullying

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on bullying and cyberbullying law.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 71, § 37O Bullying in schools

MGL c. 12, § 11H Violation of constitutional rights

MGL c. 265, § 43 Stalking

MGL c. 265, § 43A Criminal harassment; punishment

  • Effective September 18, 2024: amended by St. 2024, c. 118, §§ 5-6 to include a ban on image-based sexual assault, also referred to as "revenge porn".

MGL c. 269, § 17 Hazing

MGL c. 269, § 18 Failure to report hazing

MGL c. 269, § 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 cases

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.

Doe by and through Doe v. Hopkinton Public Schools, 490 F.Supp.3d 448 (D. Mass. 2020) 
Neither school district's anti-bullying policy, nor the Massachusetts anti-bullying statute, which prohibited repeated speech or conduct directed at victim that caused physical or emotional harm or infringed upon victim's educational rights, were facially overbroad in violation of the First Amendment, absent showing that either the policy or the statute prohibited a substantial amount of protected speech or conduct.

Web sources

Bullying, Mass. Legal Services.
Compilation of Massachusetts bullying law resources.

Bullying prevention and intervention, Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Model bullying prevention plan, updates, laws, and other resources for schools and parents.

Cyberbullying Resource Center
Compilation of resources for teachers, students, parents, adults and more. The Center is run by two university professors as a clearinghouse for information.

Know your rights, 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.
Provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying and includes state by state guides.

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, harassment, safety & discipline at school, MCLE, 2023.

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

School law in Massachusetts, by Rhoda E. Schneider, MCLE loose-leaf.
Includes a sample anti-harassment policy for schools in Chapter 8. MCLE, 4th edition, 2022.

Working with children with special needs, section 5, MCLE, 2015.

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Last updated: June 21, 2024

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