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New Law Cracks Down on Teen Cyberbullying

The new law authorizes discipline of students who engage in cyberbullying, off-campus or on.

New Law Cracks Down on Teen Cyberbullying
Written by Renee Schiavone, Sheila Sanchez and Bea Karnes

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill allowing for more disciplinary actions to be taken by schools when bullying is present-- either on or off the campus.

The 2012 suicide of Audrie Pott, who hanged herself at her mother’s Los Altos home in her despair over cyberbullying, garnered international attention that highlighted the need for changes in the existing law.

Brown signed AB 256, which goes into effect in January and updates current anti-bullying statutes, according to the office of Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens). 

Garcia said the law applies when students use computers, smartphones and social media to perpetuate harassing and threatening behavior while away from the school campus.

"Once cyber-bullying is discovered in a text, email, or in any form, this law will give school officials the tools to pursue bullies and protect the well-being of our students.” Garcia said.

According to the assemblymember's office, current law only allows for disciplinary action to be taken on students in grades four through 12 when the bullying takes place on campus, when traveling to and from school, or when students are at sponsored activities.  

With AB 256, superintendents and principals can take necessary steps like suspending or expelling those who cyber-bully others. 

[Related:  Read full text of the bill here.]

"AB 256 closes a large loophole in anti-bullying law to match the reality we live in today by updating laws written before the explosive growth of electronic devices and instant communication,” said Garcia. “By supporting this bill, the Governor and the Legislature have made a clear statement that student bullying is unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form."

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