Cyberbullying Could Be a Crime

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LAREDO, Texas (KGNS) - A bill aimed at fighting cyberbullying will soon be up for a vote on the senate floor.

Senate Bill 179, also known as 'David's Law' stems from the suicide of 16-year-old David Molak last January in San Antonio.

If passed, bullies could soon be seeing consequences and school district's policies could change.

Members of the State Affairs Committee heard emotional testimony from families who lost a child from cyberbullying before supporting it.

State Senator Jose Menendez and Judith Zaffirini are the author of SB 179. Mendez says the bill offers consequences for those who are bullying others.

As a mother of a child who has been bullied, Rose Flores says it's unfortunate when bullying happens, but it's even worse when it's reported and no action is taken.

Flores founded the group 'Better Bullying Protocol', where she pushes for school districts to take bullying seriously.

Flores says she thrilled hear that Senate Bill 179 is taking bullying seriously.

If passed, the bill would require school districts across the state add cyberbullying and online harassment into their district policies.

The bill would also require school districts to develop a system to anonymously report bullying and school officials are given up to 24 hours to notify the victim's parents.

The bully's parents would also be informed of any incidents.

It would also allow districts to investigate off-campus bullying if it significantly affects the school environment.

The bill also establishes a criminal offense for the most severe cases, involving intent to push the victim to attempt or commit suicide or harm themselves.

The offense would start at a class B misdemeanor and develop to a class A misdemeanor in a case of multiple aggressors.
Flores says the bill is the first step for lawmakers to actively prevent bullying.

Laredo I.S.D. says they are pleased that state officials are taking action.

They add, they have policies in place to safeguard students from cyberbullying and make sure there are consequences for L.I.S.D. students and employees who victimize others with cyberbullying.

The bill will not be presented to the full senate on a later date.

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