Cyberbullying statutes state by state
Here is a partial summary of states with current or proposed laws concerning cyberbullying. Unless otherwise noted, measures listed have been passed into law.
Schools must develop policies to help stop harassment. Includes electronic forms of bullying. “Punishment shall conform with applicable federal and state disability, antidiscrimination, and education laws and school discipline policies.”
- General anti-harassment, intimidation and bullying policy. Defines bullying in part as “an intentional written, oral, or physical act … undertaken with the intent of threatening, intimidating, harassing, or frightening the student” and affecting him or her or the school in various ways. Requires each school district to develop policies to deal with bullying. Requires reporting bullying incidents and forbids reprisals against reporting.
- Anti-harassment statute defines harassment as including “insults, taunts or challenges in a manner likely to provoke an immediate violent response.”
- Includes repeated telephone calls at “extremely inconvenient hours.”
- It is a crime of harassment in the second degree to make an “obscene electronic communication, or a telephone call or electronic communication that threatens physical injury or sexual contact.” Publishing or distributing sexually explicit images of a person for purposes of harassment also included.
- Adds requirement that schools must “prescribe and enforce policies and procedures to prohibit pupils from harassing, intimidating and bullying other pupils on school grounds, on school property, on school buses, at school bus stops and, at school sponsored events and activities and through the use of electronic technology or electronic communication on school computers, networks, forums, and mailing lists.”
- Includes harassment, bullying, and intimidating with the use of electronic technology.
S.B. 214 — affects A.C.A. Section 5-71-217
- Applies to any textual, visual, written, or oral communication of any kind made through the use of a computer online service, Internet service, telephone, or any other means of electronic communication. Cyberbullying is a Class B misdemeanor.
- “A person commits the offense of cyberbullying if:
- (1) “He or she transmits, sends, or posts a communication by electronic means with the purpose to frighten, coerce, intimidate, threaten, abuse, harass, or alarm another person; and
- (2) “The transmission was in furtherance of severe, repeated, or hostile behavior toward the other person.”
Disability Rights Bill — H.B. 1072, 2007 — affects 6.18.514
- Defines cyberbullying as “the use of computers, websites, the Internet, cell phones, text messaging, chat rooms, and instant messaging to ridicule, harass, intimidate, humiliate, or otherwise bully another student, is a growing problem for public school students due to the increased use of such electronic devices by children both on and off school property.” Requires every school board to adopt policies prohibiting bullying.
(Search here to find California statutes.)
S.B. 746 — affects EDC 32261.d and EDC 48900.R.2
- Specifies that bullying of students by means of an electronic act includes a post on a social-network website.
- Expands existing law to add communication through electronic means of transmission as a form of bullying.
- “Material and substantial disruption” standard (from Tinker) still used to justify bill. Schools can now suspend students for bullying on social networking sites, including Facebook, if Tinker disruption standard is believed to be met.
A.B. 86 — affects EDC 32270
- Encourages school districts, county education offices, law enforcement and youth agencies “to develop and implement inter-agency strategies, in-service training programs, and activities” to reduce a host of school-crime ills, including bullying and cyberbullying.
H.B. 11-1254, signed May 2011 — affects state statutes 2-1-128, 22-93, 2-3-1203, 22-32-109.1, 22-32-142, and 22-30.5
- Prohibits bullying against any student for any reason.
- In defining bullying, includes “electronic and online forms of bullying.”
- Creates a “school bullying prevention and education grant program” (C.R.S. 22-93-102), with grant money to be used “for purposes that are based upon evidence-based best practices for preventing bullying” (C.R.S. 22-93-104).
- Schools must develop specific bullying policies. Sets up public hearings where school principles or district boards of education will review schools’ progress in enforcing the policies.
- State education department is required to create a website for education on practices for dealing with bullying.
S.B. 1138 – “An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws” — affects statutes 10-222 and 10-145
- Requires schools to develop policies dealing with bullying.
- Cyberbullying’ means any act of bullying conducted through the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cell phone or other mobile devices “or any electronic communications.”
- Requires the education department to analyze bullying and bullying policies and submit a report to a committee of the General Assembly.
- Encourages teachers to complete programs related to dealing with bullying.
- Bullying includes any intentional, written, electronic, verbal or physical act or actions against another student, school volunteer or school employee that can cause fear of substantial harm, create a hostile, threatening, humiliating or abusive school environment, or foster further bullying.
- Requires each school district and charter school to establish policies and training to deal with bullying. Sets up a reporting system. Provides a reward system for schools with exemplary programs.
- Requires school districts and charter schools to receive training for identifying and reporting gang activity and bullying
- Amends Title 14, Section 4112D(d)(1) and Title 29, Section 2515 of the Delaware Code.
- Expands § 4112D to say the education department shall develop a cyberbullying policy based on a model prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice and public comment upon that model.
- Adds section to Title 29, Section 2515, to say schools have the option of being represented by DOJ if a lawsuit results from adopting a cyberbullying policy.
H.B. 699 — Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act — creates state statute 1006.147
- Mandates that each school district draft policy prohibiting bullying and harassment.
- Bullying means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students.
- Harassment can occur through “the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network of a public K-12 educational institution.”
- Prohibits bullying on a computer, computer system, or computer network of a public K-12 education institution.
- Refers victims and perpetrators of bullying or harassment for counseling.
- “Bullying” covers acts occurring on school property, vehicles, bus stops and functions, and includes acts conducted “by use of data or software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, computer network, or other electronic technology of a local school system.”
- Includes actions and speech that attempt or threaten to inflict injury, interfere with education, create a threatening school environment or disrupt school.
- Requires that school boards and the education department develop policies to deal with bullying.
- Definition of bullying includes “cyberbullying,” meaning “electronically transmitted acts” through Internet, cell phone, personal digital assistant or wireless hand-held device “that a student has exhibited toward another student or (school) employee … which causes mental or physical harm to the other student(s) or school personnel and is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment.”
- Cyberbullying is prohibited on or off campus, on school buses, during school-sponsored activities, or through “a department of education data system without department of education authorized communication.”
- Can also be carried out through off-campus computers if the cyberbullying “is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student or school personnel, or both.”
- Defines and prohibits bullying and cyberbullying, including conduct “based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, physical appearance and characteristic, or socio-economic status; or a student’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”
- Requires schools to establish anti-bullying policies.
- Adds “including student harassment, intimidation or bullying” to a list of disciplinary reasons that can be the basis for temporary suspension.
- “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.”
- Elaborate bullying-prevention statute; requires schools to set anti-bullying policies.
- Prohibits bullying in school, on school buses or during any school-sponsored activity.
- Prohibits bullying “through the transmission of information from a school computer, a school computer network, or other similar electronic school equipment.”
- Adds “including gross disobedience or misconduct perpetuated by electronic means” to an expellable act of “gross disobedience or misconduct.”
- Adds that school officials may suspend or expel students if they make “an explicit threat on an Internet website against a school employee, a student, or any school-related personnel” and the site “was accessible within the school at the time the threat was made or was available to third parties who worked or studied within the school grounds at the time the threat was made.”
- Adds “including gross disobedience or misconduct perpetuated by electronic means” to a description of offenses for which students can be suspended or expelled.
- Adds “cyberstalking” to the criminal code; Class 4 felony, Class 3 on second conviction.
- Describes the crime of cyberstalking.
- Amends the definition of “bullying” to include communications transmitted from an electronic communications device or though a social-networking site.
- Adds bullying prevention and training programs to a list of policies to be determined by the board of directors of each public school district.
- Creates new “Harassment and bullying prohibited — policy — immunity” statute.
- Defines harassment and bullying as “any electronic, written, verbal, or physical act or conduct toward a student which is based on any actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile school environment” causing fear of harm, injury to physical or mental health, or interference with schoolwork and school activities.
- Requires school districts to set up policies to report incidents of harassment and bullying.
- Bullying includes “any intentional gesture or any intentional written, verbal, electronic or physical act or threat that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for a student or staff member.”
- Specifically includes cyberbullying, defined as ”bullying by use of any electronic communication device through means including, but not limited to, e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, mobile phones, pagers, online games and websites.”
- Says students should have access to “safe, secure, and orderly” schools and requires schools and school districts to have plans for dealing with “disruptive and disorderly behavior.”
- Makes “harassing communications” a Class B misdemeanor.
- Such communications include an “intent to intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm another person.”
- May occur “anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telegraph, mail, or any other form of written communication in a manner which causes annoyance or alarm and serves no purpose of legitimate communication.”
- Includes students who communicate with other students in the same manner as above.
- Cyberbullying is the transmission of any electronic textual, visual, written or oral communication with the malicious and willful intent to coerce, abuse, torment, or intimidate a person under age 18.
- Requires “each city, parish, and other local public school board” to adopt policies dealing with bullying, intimidation, harassment.
- Definition of bullying, etc., covers intentional gestures and written, spoken and physical acts that will harm or instill a fear of harm, or create a threatening educational environment for a student.
- “Cyberbullying” means “harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student on school property by another student using a computer, mobile phone, or other interactive or digital technology or harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student while off school property by another student using any such means when the action or actions are intended to have an effect on the student when the student is on school property.”
- Zero-tolerance policy on fighting (not directly related to bullying).
Sec. 1. 20-A MRSA Sec. 6553, as amended by PL 1999, c. 351, Sec. 4
- “C. ‘Cyberbullying’ means injurious hazing by any verbal, textual or graphic communication of any kind effected, created or transmitted by the use of any electronic device, including but not limited to a computer, telephone, cellular telephone, text messaging device and personal digital assistant.”
- “The school board shall adopt a policy that establishes that ‘injurious hazing and cyberbullying,’ either on or off school property, by any student, staff member, group or organization affiliated with the public school is prohibited.”
- “The school board shall adopt a policy which establishes that ‘injurious hazing,’ either on or off school property, by any student, staff member, group or organization affiliated with the public school is prohibited.”
H.B. 199, 2008, affects §7-424 and §7-424.1
- Requires all instances of bullying to be reported.
- “‘Bullying, harassment, or intimidation’ means intentional conduct, including verbal, physical, or written conduct, or an intentional electronic communication, that:
(i) 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 and is:
1. Motivated by an actual or a perceived personal characteristic including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attribute, socioeconomic status, familial status, or physical or mental ability or disability; or
2. Threatening or seriously intimidating; and
(ii) 1. Occurs on school property, at a school activity or event, or on a school bus; or
2. Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school.”
Chapter 92, Section 5, (Approved May 3, 2010) — amends several areas of state law:
- Chapter 6, Section 15NNNNN — establishes fourth Wednesday in January as “No Name Calling Day.”
- Chapter 69, Section 1D — directs state department of education to establish statewide teaching standards for “bullying prevention.”
- Chapter 71, Section 37H — Requires schools to enforce codes of discipline and school handbooks to contain information on bullying prevention.
- Chapter 71, Section 37O (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (h), (i), (j) after 37N — defines bullying and cyberbullying
“’Bullying,’ the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim… .”
“Cyberbullying is “bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication… . Cyber-bullying shall also include (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages… .”
- Chapter 71B, Section 3, paragraph six amended to address bullying of special education students.
- Chapter 265, Section 43 amended to define and set punishments for criminal stalking.
- Chapter 265, Section 43A amended to define and set punishments for criminal harassment.
- Chapter 268, Section 13B, Subsection 3 — law criminalizing intimidation of witnesses and jurors.
- Chapter 269, Section 14A replaces language, defines, sets punishment for “annoying telephone calls or electronic communication.”
- Chapter 272, Section 98C — Libel law
“Whoever publishes any false written or printed material with intent to maliciously promote hatred of any group of persons in the commonwealth because of race, color or religion shall be guilty of libel and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.”
Act 451,Section 380.1310b –“Matt’s Safe School Law”
- Schools are required to offer annual training for dealing with bullying and cyberbullying.
- “(b) ‘Bullying’ means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication, that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:
- (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.
- (ii) Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.
- (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.
- (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.”
S.F. No. 646, as introduced – 85th Legislative Session (2007-2008)
- Amends Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 121A.0695
- 121A.0695 SCHOOL BOARD POLICY; PROHIBITING INTIMIDATION AND BULLYING.
- “Each school board shall adopt a written policy prohibiting intimidation and bullying of any student. The policy shall address intimidation and bullying in all forms, including, but not limited to, electronic forms and forms involving Internet use.”
S.B.2015 — signed into law in 2010
- Requires schools districts to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and harassing behavior, defined as “any pattern of gestures or written, electronic or verbal communications, or any physical act or any threatening communication, or any act reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, or on a school bus… .”
- Section 160.261 — States that harassment is a crime that schools need to develop policies to address.
- Section 160.775. 1 — Requires districts to develop anti-bullying policies that ensure a safe learning environment. “‘Bullying’ means intimidation or harassment that causes a reasonable student to fear for his or her physical safety or property. Bullying may consist of physical actions, including gestures, or oral, cyberbullying, electronic, or written communication, and any threat of retaliation for reporting of such acts.”
S.B. 818 — Creates sections 565.090, 565.091, and 565.225
- 565.090 — One provision states that “A person commits the crime of harassment if he or she … knowingly frightens, intimidates, or causes emotional distress to another person by anonymously making a telephone call or any electronic communication.”
- 565.091 — Defines cyber harassment: “A person commits the crime of cyber harassment if, for the purpose of frightening or disturbing another person, he or she transmits or causes the transmission of an electronic communication, or knowingly permits an electronic communication to be transmitted to another person from an electronic communications device under his or her control.”
- 565.225 —Defines the crimes of stalking and aggravated stalking.
Montana currently has no anti-bullying statutes.
- Amends Section 79-267 Includes “threatening or intimidating” and also “bullying” as grounds for “long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment.”
- Defines bullying as” a willful act or course of conduct on the part of one or more pupils which is not authorized by law and which exposes a pupil repeatedly and over time to one or more negative actions which is highly offensive to a reasonable personand is intended to cause and actually causes the pupil to suffer harm or serious emotional distress.”
- Cyberbullying is “bullying through the use of electronic communication.”
- Nevada Department of Education is to “prescribe by regulation a policy for all school districts and public schools to provide a safe and respectful learning environment that is free of bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and intimidation.”
- 193-F:3 — Defines bullying and cyberbullying:
- “I. (a) ‘Bullying’ means a single significant incident or a pattern of incidents involving a written, verbal, or electronic communication, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another pupil which:
- (1) Physically harms a pupil or damages the pupil’s property;
- (2) Causes emotional distress to a pupil;
- (3) Interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities;
- (4) Creates a hostile educational environment; or
- (5) Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.
- (b) ‘Bullying’ shall include actions motivated by an imbalance of power based on a pupil’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs, or motivated by the pupil’s association with another person and based on the other person’s characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs.
- II. ‘Cyberbullying’ means conduct defined in paragraph I of this section undertaken through the use of electronic devices.”
- 193-F:4 — Requires schools to establish procedures to deal with bullying.
Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act — P.L.2010, Chapter 122
- C.18A:6-112, Section 2 — Requires public school officials to have training in suicide prevention.
- C. 18A:37, Section 2 — Includes “harassment, intimidation, or bullying” in a list of acts that make a student liable for punishment, suspension, or expulsion.
- C.18A:37-14, Section 2— Defines “harassment, intimidation, or bullying,” including:
- “‘Harassment, intimidation or bullying’ means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, on a school bus, or off school grounds … that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students… .”
A.B. 3803, S.B. 993, 2007 — Adds “electronic communication” to a list of ways which harassment, intimidation, and bullying can occur.
- “‘Bullying’ means any repeated and pervasive written, verbal or electronic expression, physical act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to cause distress upon one or more students in the school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop, or at school activities or sanctioned events. Bullying includes, but is not limited to, hazing, harassment, intimidation or menacing acts of a student which may, but need not be based on the student’s race, color, sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.”
- Requires school boards to adopt anti-bullying policies.
A3661C-2009/b S1987B-2009 — “Dignity for All Students Act”
- Creates Title 1, Article 2, Sections 10-18 in the legal code: Section 11 — “‘Harassment shall mean the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; such conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse includes but is not limited to conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.”
- Amends Section 801-a of the education law: Incorporates education on discrimination and harassment into required “Instruction in civility, citizenship and character education.” “For the purposes of this section, ‘tolerance,’ ‘respect for others’ and ‘dignity’ shall include awareness and sensitivity to discrimination or harassment and civility in the relations of people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, genders, and sexes.”
S.B. 4921-2011 — “Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences (LEAD)”
- Measure passed N.Y. Senate in 2011, was sent to Assembly Rules Committee in June 2012. It would significantly amend the “Dignity for All Students Act” and prohibit the use of technology as a method of bullying.
Compiled August 2012 by Benjamin Ries. Neil Booher contributed to this research.