School-Based Bullying and Teen Dating Violence Prevention Laws: Overlapping or Distinct?

Michele Cascardi, Christopher M. King, Daniel Rector, Jill DelPozzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The most recent legislative attempts to curb violence in schools have been school-based dating violence prevention laws. In the previous decade, there was an increase in legislation designed to prevent bullying in schools; these laws now exist in 50 states. However, most anti-bullying laws provide an expansive definition of bullying that includes any type of peer aggression, harassment, or teen dating violence (TDV). Having several different state and federal laws aimed at curtailing multiple forms of aggression may produce confusion about appropriate intervention and disciplinary responses, requiring school districts to develop parallel sets of policies, educational curricula, intervention approaches, and reporting requirements for overlapping behaviors that can be simultaneously peer aggression, bullying, harassment, and TDV. We conducted a systematic search of applicable laws and systematically coded those we identified for relevant content (i.e., definitions, covered locales, protected groups, and personnel, procedural, preventive, and disclosure elements). Anti-bullying laws were typically more detailed than dating violence laws. TDV laws were more likely to target TDV and control intimate behavior and to provide for education about healthy relationships. Both types of laws often mandated trainings; specified reportable behaviors; discussed sanctions, recommendations, and interventions; and mentioned counseling, specially trained staff persons, or designated specialists. Both anti-bullying and TDV laws also sometimes directed reporting of aggregate incident rates and impacts of prevention efforts. Neither type of law tended to specify school and community resources or prevention approaches. Results inform discussion of the merits of different approaches to school-based violence prevention laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3267-3297
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • bullying
  • legal interventions
  • teen dating violence
  • youth violence


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