With all of the attention on bullying and the effects that it has on kids, the Alabama Legislature passed a law named Jamari Terrell Williams Act.
As a parent, you must be aware of this law, and that it does not only cover actions by children at school and school activities, but any action off of the school’s grounds and after school hours. The Act criminalizes online behavior that the school system or law enforcement deems to be bullying.
The law requires each local school system have an updated policy defining “Bullying”. A search of my local school systems’ websites did not produce any updated policies. A search of the Alabama Department of Education did not produce any results for the updated policy on Bullying.
John, how does that affect me?
This law criminalizes behavior that has normally been handled in the school system or within families. The law thrust children into the Juvenile Criminal Justice system for actions that you did not know were criminal in nature and before now were handled within the school system disciplinary program.
It is important that you request a written copy of all policies that define “bullying” from the school that your child attends to know what actions the school states falls under bullying.
Why is this important?
What as a parent you see as bullying is not the same definition other people have for bullying. If a parent claims that your child “bullied” their child to the school, you need to be equipped to defend your child based upon the school’s written policies or if they do not have policies in place to argue that the school cannot take actions because they have failed to comply with the law.
You need to be prepared if the school calls law enforcement regarding your child, that you can stop the juvenile proceedings before it starts. Why is that important? If law enforcement detains your child ( Juvenile lingo for arrested) it can be 24 hours or more until your child is released back into your custody.
At that point, you will need to retain an attorney to handle the Juvenile proceeding against your child.
Our legislature has criminalized behavior that used to be handled inside of the school system or the family. You need to be prepared to protect your child from overzealous or naive school officials that can thrust your child into the Criminal Justice System.
Be prepared, hold the government agencies accountable if they do not follow the rules, and know the law.
If you have any questions feel free to call the Aaron Law Firm at (205) 685-8383.