Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a violation of law with a likelihood of imprisonment and/or damages. Unfortunately because cyberbullying is typically sophisticated and many times anonymous, the government is likely to accuse an innocent individual. Moreover, many attorneys do not have the background and/or knowledge to successfully defend or sue a person accused of cyberbullying. Someone involved with cyberbullying needs the expertise of a strong Internet attorney.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the willful and repeated use of cell phones, computers, and other electronic communication devices to harass and threaten others. Instant messaging, chat rooms, e-mails, and messages posted on websites are the most common methods of this new twist of bullying. Cyberbullies can quickly spread messages and images to a vast audience, while remaining anonymous, often making them difficult to trace. It is challenging to characterize cyberbullying in legislation however, language has included electronic communication, cyberbullying, and electronic and Internet intimidation.
Recent concerns about protecting minors from online bullying or harassment have led states to enact "cyberbullying" laws. The Following identifies enacted legislation that address cyberbullying.
HB 216 - Enacted: 2009
Provides for the adoption of policies by public school systems pertaining to the prevention of harassment of one student against another student, provides that the right of freedom of speech would not be abridged, requires the State Department of Education to develop a model policy for local boards pertaining to student harassment prevention. Promotes school-based or community-based alternative programs outside of the classroom.
SB 1266 - Enacted: 2010
Provides that it is unlawful for a juvenile to use an electronic communication device to transmit or display a visual depiction of a minor that depicts explicit sexual material or to intentionally or knowingly possess such a visual depiction that was transmitted to the juvenile through the use of such a device, modifies the crimes of aggravated assault and domestic violence, specifies that an order of protection against a person accused of domestic violence may include provisions to protect an animal.
HB 1072 - Enacted: 2007
Includes cyberbullying in school district harassment prevention policies. Requires every public school district to have policies to prevent pupil harassment including bullying and cyberbullying. Policies need to address bullying in school, on school property, or electronic acts that result in substantial disruption of the educational environment.
AB 86 - Enacted: 2008
Specifies that bullying, as used in the Interagency School Safety Demonstration Act of 1985, includes acts that constitute sexual harassment, hate violence, or severe or pervasive intentional harassment, threats, or intimidation and that are committed personally or by means of an electronic communications device or system. Provides grounds for school officials to suspend a pupil or recommend a pupil for expulsion for bullying, including bullying by electronic act.
HB 1036 - Enacted: 2005
Requires each school district, to adopt an Internet safety plan consisting of a comprehensive, age-appropriate curriculum teaching the safe and legal use of the Internet; encourages each school district to use existing Internet safety resources available from nonprofit organizations and to work with local law enforcement agencies in adopting and developing the curriculum; directs each school district to identify a person who is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Internet safety plan. Includes online bullying as a topic that the curriculum may address.
HB 7 - Enacted: 2007
Creates the School Bullying Prevention Act. This bill provides for a safer learning environment for students attending public schools, including charter schools, in the State of Delaware and for the staff members of those institutions. The bill requires each school district and charter school to establish a policy on bullying prevention with certain minimal requirements including, but not limited to developing a bullying prevention program and reporting bullying to the Delaware Department of Education. Electronic communication is included in the definition of bullying.
HB 669 - Enacted: 2008
Prohibits bullying or harassment during education programs or activities, on school buses, or through use of data or computer software accessed through school computer systems; defines bullying as systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students; requires procedures as a prerequisite to receipt of school funds.
SB 250 - Enacted: 2010
Relates to prohibited acts of bullying at public schools; relates to unlawful disruption of the operation of public schools, at bus stops, on public school buses or by use of data or software access through a computer network or electronic technology of a local school system; provides that a mental state of knowledge, intention, or recklessness shall be an element; includes physical acts; provides that a student can be reassigned to another school for the purpose of separating such student from the victim.
HB 750 - Enacted: 2006
Provides that no student shall intentionally commit, or conspire to commit, an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying against another student. Provides that an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying may also be committed through the use of a land line, car phone or wireless telephone or through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system or computer network. Provides that a student who personally violates any provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Amends and adds to existing law to provide that superintendents and principals may temporarily suspend pupils for student harassment, intimidation or bullying.
SB 3266 - Enacted: 2010
Concerns bullying prevention education and gang resistance. Prohibits bullying on the basis of actual or perceived race, religion, sex, ancestry, age, marital status, disability, military status or sexual orientation while in school, on school property, on school buses or other school vehicles, at designated school bus stops waiting for the school bus, or at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events or activities. Prohibits bullying through the transmission of information from a school computer, a school computer network, or other similar electronic school equipment. Includes private schools.
SF 61 - Enacted: 2007
Provides that school districts and accredited nonpublic schools shall adopt anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. Defines "harassment" and "bullying" to mean any electronic, written, verbal, or physical act or conduct toward a student which is based on an actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile school environment that meets specified conditions. Provides that "trait or characteristic of the student" includes, but is not limited to, age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, political belief, socioeconomic status, or family status. Requires districts and accredited nonpublic schools to develop and maintain a system to collect harassment and bullying incidence data and to integrate the policy into the comprehensive school improvement plan.
HB 2758 - Enacted: 2008
Adds cyberbullying to school districts’ policies that prohibit bullying at school. Cyberbullying is defined as bullying by use of any electronic communication device, including email, instant messaging, blogs, mobile phones and websites.
HB 91 - Enacted: 2008
Relates to felony assaults on public school students; requires school districts to have procedures for reporting and assisting students engaging in disruptive and disorderly behavior, including assault, harassment, intimidation, or bullying of another student; provides for privacy rights of all personally identifiable information collected; provides that such data shall be placed in a student's disciplinary record; requires a strategy for protecting from retaliation. Includes electronic communication in forms of harassing communications.
HB 1458 - Enacted: 2010
Requires the governing authority of each public elementary and secondary school to conduct a review of the student code of conduct and amend such code to assure the code addresses cyberbullying; requires the adoption of policies establishing procedures for the investigation of reports of harassment, intimidation, and bullying, including cyberbullying, of a student by another student.
HB 1259 - Enacted: 2010
Creates the crime of cyberbullying, provides for penalties, and relates to the disposition of certain cases involving juveniles.
HB 199 - Enacted: 2008
Requires the State Board of Education to develop a model policy prohibiting bullying, harassment and intimidation in schools; requires certain county boards of education to establish certain policies prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation in schools based on the model policy. Regards bullying, harassment, or intimidation as intentional conduct, including verbal, physical, or written conduct, or an intentional electronic communication, that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student's educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, or with a student's physical or psychological well-being.
SB 2404 - Enacted: 2010
Prohibits bullying on school grounds or at a school-sponsored or related activity, or through the use of an electronic device whether the device is school-owned or not, requires age-appropriate instruction, requires the development of an anti-bullying plan, authorizes anti-discrimination or harassment policies, requires related professional development.
Michigan (Not Legislative Enactment)
EO 46 - Enacted: 2007
Creates the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Advisory Board. Requires the Advisory Board to establish and maintain accountability-based programs that are designed to enhance school safety. The programs may include research-based bullying, cyberbullying, and gang prevention programs.
SB 646 - Enacted: 2007
Requires each school board to adopt a written policy regarding intimidation and bullying in all forms, including, but not limited to, electronic forms and forms involving Internet use.
SB 2015 - Enacted: 2010
Prohibits bullying or harassing behavior in the schools; defines such behavior; defines hostile environment; requires all school districts to adopt a policy prohibiting such behavior. Includes electronic communications in bullying behaviors.
HB 1543 - Enacted: 2010
Makes changes concerning reporting of acts of school violence to teachers by school administrators. Among other provisions, the law redefines bullying as intimidation or harassment that causes a reasonable student to fear his or her physical safety or property, and may consist of physical actions, including gestures, or oral, cyberbullying, electronic, or written communication, and any threat of retaliation for reporting of such acts.
LB 205 - Enacted: 2008
Requires each school district to develop and adopt a policy concerning bullying prevention and education for all students. The school district shall review and approve the policy annually. Bullying is defined as any ongoing pattern of physical, verbal, or electronic abuse on school grounds, in a vehicle owned, leased, or contracted by a school being used for a school purpose by a school employee or his or her designee, at a designated school bus stop, or at school-sponsored activities or school-sponsored athletic events.
SB 163 - Enacted: 2009
Revises provisions governing safe and respectful learning environments in public schools to include a prohibition on bullying and cyberbullying, requires the standards of content and performance for courses of study in computer education and technology established by the Council to Establish Academic Standards for Public Schools to include a policy for the ethical, safe and secure use of computers and other electronic devices, revises certain prohibited acts to specifically include cyberbullying.
HB 1523 - Enacted: 2010
Revises the statute on pupil safety and violence prevention to include harassment, intimidation, bullying, and cyberbullying.
SB 993 - Enacted: 2007
Includes electronic communication in the definition of public school harassment, intimidation or bullying. Defines electronic communication to mean a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, cellular phone, computer or pager.
SB 7051 - Enacted: 2008
Requires the Commissioner of Education to develop resources and technical assistance for schools and to provide to children information concerning the safe and responsible use of the Internet, requires the resources to include information regarding child predators, protecting personal information, Internet scams, and cyberbullying.
SB 526 - Enacted: 2009
Defines bullying or harassing behavior as any pattern of gestures or written, electronic, or verbal communications, or any physical act or any threatening communication, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, or on a school bus, and that places a student or school employee in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property.
HB 1261 - Enacted: 2009
Protects children of this state by making cyberbullying a criminal offense punishable as a misdemeanor, provides that it is unlawful for a person to use a computer or network with the intent to pose as a minor with the intent to intimidate or torment a minor, and provides for probation for a minor guilty of cyberbullying.
SB 1941 - Enacted: 2008
Provides for a review of school district and higher education institution emergency plans; revises requirements for school district lockdown drills; includes harmful electronic communication in the definition of bullying; requires school district boards of education to investigate allegations of bullying and intimidation; authorizes a board to recommend mental health services; authorizes the issuance of grants to schools and higher education institutions to encourage emergency preparedness.
HB 2673 - Enacted: 2007
Requires school districts to adopt policies prohibiting cyberbullying; adds cyberbullying to provisions relating to school district policies on harassment, intimidation or bullying.
HB 2599 - Enacted: 2009
Requires school districts to prohibit harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying, considers a school district to be nonstandard if school district does not comply with requirements, relates to interference with the psychological well-being of a student, provides for protected classes of status including race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, source of income or disability, includes behavior at school-sponsored activities, school transportation and bus stops.
HB 1067 - Enacted: 2008
Defines bullying as any intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, or a series of acts: directed at another student or students, which occurs in a school setting, that is severe, persistent or pervasive, and that has the effect of doing any of the following: substantially interfering with a student's education, creating a threatening environment, or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school, and "school setting" shall mean in the school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop or at any activity sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by the school.
SB 2012 - Enacted: 2008
Expands the definition of student discipline codes relating to harassment or bullying to include electronic communications; includes a computer, telephone, cellular telephone, text-messaging device and personal data assistance devices.
HB 3573 - Enacted: 2006
Defines harassment, intimidation and bullying and requires school districts to adopt policies prohibiting this behavior. Bullying includes electronic communication. The State Board of Education shall develop model policies applicable to grades kindergarten to 12 and shall develop teacher preparation program standards on the identification and prevention of bullying. Schools and school districts are encouraged to establish bullying prevention programs. Provides immunity to a school employee or volunteer who promptly reports an incident to the appropriate school official.
SB 91 - Enacted: 2009
Expands the offense of electronic communication harassment to include acts intended to cause substantial emotional distress, modifies the penalties for electronic communication harassment: increases the penalty for repeat offenses, provides a greater penalty if the victim is a minor. “Bullying” means any conduct, course of conduct, or communication made in any manner, including electronic means. (HB 325- Line 52)
HB 1624 - Enacted: 2009
Relates to Board of Education model policies for codes of student conduct, provides for the inclusion of electronic bullying, harassment, and intimidation in such policies, and provides for the dissemination of information to students, parents, and school personnel.
SB 5288 - Enacted: 2007
Provides that each school district shall amend its harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policy to include a section addressing acts of bullying, harassment, or intimidation that are conducted via electronic means. The policy shall include a requirement that materials be made available to educate parents and students about the seriousness of cyberbullying. Provides that the material shall include information on responsible and safe Internet use as well as what options are available if a student is being bullied via electronic means, including but not limited to, reporting threats to local police and when to involve school officials, the Internet service provider, or phone service provider. If a school district has Internet use policies, the act of bullying, harassing, or intimidating another student via online means shall be included as a prohibited act and be subject to disciplinary action.
HB 2801 - Enacted: 2010
Relates to harassment, intimidation, and bullying of students in public schools; requires each school district to adopt a minimum revised model policy and procedure that prohibits harassment, intimidation and bullying; requires school districts to designate one person in the district as the primary contact for the policy; provides that the contact shall receive complaints and have responsibility for implementation of the policy. Includes electronic communications.
HB 223 - Enacted: 2009
Prohibits harassment, intimidation or bullying, requires school districts to adopt related prevention policies and imposes requirements on the Department of Education; includes any intentional electronic communication in the definition of harassment, intimidation or bullying.
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