Calif. schools get tough vs. cyberbullying under amended law

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cyberbullying laws have become quite the rage in recent years, as legislators attempt to empower school officials to deal with harassing and threatening communications by students against other students. A recent incident in San Jose, Calif., shows that school officials mean business in using these laws.

A May 25 Associated Press report relates that three students at a San Jose middle school were suspended for alleging posting threats on Facebook.

School officials relied on a 2011 amendment to an existing state cyberbullying law that makes clear that school officials can take action against harassing posts on “social network Internet Web sites.”

California originally enacted a cyberbullying law in 2008. It defined “electronic act” as “the transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager.”

In 2011, state lawmakers amended this definition to include “or a post on a social network Internet web site.”

“The increase in popularity of social networks has also brought an increase in abuse and in some instances depression and suicide,” said State Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D–San Jose, in a news release last July. She added that “preventing these tragedies is why I introduced this legislation.”

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