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New cyberbullying bill would give schools power to punish kids for outside activities

A new bill could change the enforcement of punishment for cyber bullies.
A new bill could change the enforcement of punishment for cyber bullies.

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A new California bill would allow school administrators to punish students who bully online. School officials would have the power to expel students even if the cyber bullying took place off school grounds. Authored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, the bill comes after recent suicides from victims of bullying. In Saratoga, two young girls were sexually assaulted, then teased repeatedly online before committing suicide. School officials could not stop the cyber attacks because it was outside school property.

Under the current law, superintendents can only punish students who cyber bully at school or during school activities. According to the Associated Press, the ACLU has criticized the bill as restricting online speech for students.

Do you think school officials should be able to punish cyber bullying no matter where it happens? How will the school investigate claims of cyber bullying? Does this law limit free online speech for students? What can schools do to stop cyber bullying? Is suspension a strong enough punishment?

Jeff Freitas, Secretary-Treasurer, California Federation of Teachers

Susan Porter, Ph.D, author of “Bully Nation: Why America’s Approach to Childhood Aggression is Bad for Everyone” (Paragon House); Dean of Students at The Branson School in Ross, California; she has worked in schools for 25 years.