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Bullying Prevention and Help

For Parents, Guardians, and Students

The South Dakota Department of Education wants every student to have access to a positive, safe school environment -- one that is conducive to student learning and where all students are treated with respect.

Bullying is prohibited in South Dakota schools. State law offers a definition of bullying at SDCL 13-32-15. Cyberbullying is considered bullying and also is prohibited (see SDCL 13-32-18).

Addressing bullying in schools requires collaboration among parents/guardians, teachers, principals, and other school staff as well as students. The information below lays out the process of working with a local school district to address bullying.

What can I do if my child is being bullied?

First and foremost, work with your local school district.


  1. Review your school district's bullying policy
    Each school district is required to have a bullying policy pursuant to SDCL § 13-32-14. The policy should be readily available to stakeholders, parents/guardians, and students, and it should contain the following provisions:
    • A statement prohibiting bullying and a definition of bullying that includes the definition listed in SDCL § 13-32-15;
    • A description of the type of behavior expected from each student of the school district, and the consequences for a student of the school district who commits an act of bullying;
    • A procedure for reporting an act of bullying, including provisions that permit a person to anonymously report such an act, although formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on an anonymous report; and
    • A procedure for the prompt investigation and response to any report of bullying, including a requirement that an investigation be conducted on any alleged incident of bullying committed against a child while the child is aboard a school bus, at a school bus stop, or at a school-sponsored event.

  2. Report bullying in writing
    After reviewing your school district's bullying policy, report the bullying. While some local policies indicate that bullying may be reported verbally to the school, the Department of Education recommends that reports be made in writing. It is good practice for schools to have bullying report forms available to students and parents at the school or on the school's website.

    If the bullying behavior involves criminal conduct (theft, assault, etc.), the incident should also be reported to local law enforcement.

  3. Address the needs of your student
    Work with your school district to develop a plan to help your student be safe while at school. This can include safety on the school bus.

    Examples of possible responses:
    • Increase adult supervision in areas where the student has been bullied.
    • Inform teachers about concerns, so they can make appropriate decisions in their classrooms to maintain safety for your student.
    • Identify an adult your student trusts who agrees to check in with your student regularly.
    • Increase training for adults on how to identify harmful behaviors.
    • Make adjustments for safety with the student who has done the bullying.
    • If a student has a 504 plan or an individualized education program (IEP), safety concerns should be addressed in their respective plan or program.

    *This is not an exhaustive list and does not include ideas for addressing the behavior of the person who did the harm.

Reporting Procedures and Appeals

Refer to the school district's bullying policy for reporting procedures and appeals. If that information is not available, typically the following steps are appropriate. If one step is unsuccessful, advance to the next step:

  1. Report to the teacher and the principal
  2. Report to the superintendent
  3. Report to the school board
  4. Appeal to circuit court
Teachers and administrators are required to comply with a code of ethics, which includes making a reasonable effort to maintain discipline and order in the classroom and the school system to protect students from conditions harmful to learning, physical and emotional well-being, health, and safety and making the well-being of students the basis of decision making and action.


If you believe a teacher or administrator has violated the code of ethics, contact Ferne Haddock at the Department of Education, 800 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501, 605-773-3553 for more information about filing a complaint with the Professional Practices Commission.