New Jersey’s strict anti-bullying laws now mean that the state must hold trials when children call each other names in the schoolyard. After allegedly calling a female classmate “horse,” “fat,” and “fat ass,” an eighth-grader from Ridgewood, N.J., found himself in the courtroom.
The boy has admitted to calling the other student “horse” but denies using the other offensive terms. “I never made any remarks other than horse,” he said while giving testimony. “I did not have any intent.”
His family is concerned that what they perceive as a minor incident will result in the boy having a bullying charge on his permanent record. In the hopes of having the charge stricken from his record, they insisted that the case go to trial, the Daily Caller reported.
“I don’t feel what my son said to this young woman constitutes violation of the harassment, intimidation and bullying law,” said the boy’s father. “It’s possible that this could track my son through college graduation.”
The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights has resulted in at least 15 other families going to trial.
The law, which was enacted in 2011, was designed to stamp out the kind of treatment that resulted in the suicide of bullied Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi.
Attorney Silvana Raso handles bullying cases. "Teenagers can do stupid things at times. Kids can do things that are ill-advised. But if a school feels it is harassment, intimidation or bullying, the school has to take action," she said. "Even though to an outside observer it looks like just one instance of a child calling someone by a bad name, usually there has been some (other) conduct between these two students."