Newsom Signs California Law Banning Body Shaming Among Students

Newsom Signs California Law Banning Body Shaming Among Students

Teachers greet students on the first day of classes at Yorba Middle School in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 16, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

10/18/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed into law a bill that will ban body shaming for students in elementary through high school grades.
The governor Oct. 13 approved Assembly Bill 10, which now directs the state Education Department to develop a policy against “body shaming,” defined as “the action or practice of mocking or stigmatizing a person by making critical comments or observations about the shape, size, or appearance of the person’s body.”
“While [districts] are required to have policies about how to handle and address bullying, they are not currently required to have resources to address body shaming, which is not always characterized by bullying,” said Assemblyman Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), who introduced the bill in an April analysis.
However, the bill does not outline specifics for the policy beyond “providing information in pupil and employee handbooks and making the information available on each school site’s internet website,” nor does it indicate consequences for students who body shame other students.
Mr. Lowenthal said body shaming often leads to negative impacts on student mental health.
“[Body shaming] can cause students to withdraw from their friends, activities, classroom participation, and result in increased absenteeism, sadness, depression, and can even lead to suicidal thoughts and actions,” he said in the analysis.
Mr. Lowenthal said he hopes that requiring districts to develop such policies should reduce body shaming amongst students and equip teachers and parents to address the topic when it comes up.
The bill comes as the percentage of California adolescents considered overweight or obese rose from 31 percent in the 2018–19 school year to 35 percent in 2020–21, according to a 2023 Kids Count Report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the State of Childhood Obesity.
It was supported by several education and health groups, including the California Medical Association, the Long Beach Unified School District, and the California Teachers Association. It received no recorded opposition.
Returning students walk the hallway at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles on April 27, 2021. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Returning students walk the hallway at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles on April 27, 2021. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

The teachers’ association wrote in a statement of support that body shaming added additional pressure to students that could affect their mental health and academic performance.
“Body shaming adversely impacts student’s self-esteem. Research shows that students with low self-esteem are less likely to take academic risks, which adversely impacts their educational growth,” the organization wrote in an Assembly Education Committee analysis.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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