JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) – A new law that will take effect in Missouri on Jan. 1 delivers swift punishments for fighting in school that could have a drastic impact on how incidents are handled at schools across state.
Under the new law, if a student gets in a fight or gets in trouble for bullying, they could now be arrested and face felony charges.
This includes fights on school property and school grounds but also at bus stops and on school buses.
The new law turns a third degree assault, which means causing injury to another person, into a class E felony. This means students could be facing jail time if convicted.
A class E felony carries a jail time of up to four years.
If the victim suffers “emotional distress” from harassment, which is also considered a form of bullying, the harassing student could also be charged with a felony.
Some parents have opposed the law saying the punishments are too steep.
They’re concerned students will develop a criminal record at a very young age, before they can even grasp what it means.
But if the students are under 17, prison is not an option unless they stand trial as an adult.