Kids with cancer are 60% more likely to be bullied. #FunnyCancer is a new awareness campaign launched by the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2) in response to the reality of bullying in the childhood cancer community. Visit FunnyCancer.org to learn more about this campaign, including a map of CAC2 members committed to tackling this issue, resources to help, and calls to action.
As an advocacy-oriented organization, the Children’s Cause is always committed to providing education and resources to help you better understand the policy landscape and legal aspects of issues that impact the lives of children with cancer.
By arming yourself with information, you can be a powerful advocate for your child and other children in your community.
anti-bullying laws & policy
State and federal laws exist to protect all children from bullying. These legal protections are especially strong for children with disabilities - like a cancer diagnosis.
All 50 states have anti-bullying laws in place: This is the best place to start if your child is being bullied, as state law typically has stricter protections in place than federal law when it comes to bullying. StopBullying.gov provides an interactive map that allows you to click on your state and find a breakdown of state-specific policies and regulations.
While federal laws don’t directly address bullying, there are protections in place regarding discriminatory harassment against children with disabilities:
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): A federal law that requires schools to protect children with disabilities by providing special education and related services to meet each child’s unique needs. Children with cancer are likely eligible for IDEA designation under the “other health impairment” category, but you’ll need to work with your child’s medical team and school staff to find out for sure.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: If your child does not meet IDEA eligibility, look to 504 accommodations. A 504 Plan is less-involved and less-regulated than the more stringent Individualized Education Plans (IEP) that children who meet IDEA qualifications are eligible for.
Students covered by both IDEA or Section 504 are guaranteed a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE); school districts are required by federal law to take action if bullying interferes with a child’s FAPE.
If you believe your child is being bullied, it’s critical to document the bullying and to make a complaint - in writing - to the school district. This resource from Understood.org provides 9 clear action steps to take when you suspect bullying is taking place.