Information About Cyberbullying Laws

Description of State Cyberbullying Laws and Model Policies (April, 2014)
This regularly updated fact sheet provides a brief overview and link to each of the state bullying laws. If you are aware of updates to the bullying laws in your state that are not included, please let us know.
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Description of State Sexting Laws (July, 2013)
This regularly updated fact sheet provides a brief overview and link to each of the state bullying laws. If you are aware of updates to the bullying laws in your state that are not included, please let us know.
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Comments on Proposed Changes to Wisconsin’s Bullying Law (2013 Senate Bill 184) (October 3, 2013)
The Wisconsin Senate Committee on Education is meeting today to discuss a proposal to revise the state’s bullying law. You can read the text of the bill here. Wisconsin’s bullying law can be found here. I was asked to offer comments on the proposal and below are the comments that I sent to Senator Cullen’s office. If you live in Wisconsin and have thoughts about this proposal, feel free to contact your local legislator.
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Should Cities Have a Cyberbullying Ordinance? (October 15, 2012)
I have received quite a few inquiries in the last several months from local elected officials who are interested in proposing a city or county ordinance to address cyberbullying. Several cities in my home state of Wisconsin have recently passed ordinances (e.g., Viroqua; Franklin).  In addition, a number of cities in Missouri enacted local ordinances prohibiting cyberbullying following the tragic suicide of Megan Meier in 2006.  At that time, there appeared to be very few legal (criminal) options to hold someone accountable for cyberbullying or other forms of online harassment. The question to consider is whether a local cyberbullying ordinance is the right way to tackle this problem.  Here are my thoughts on this issue.
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Wisconsin’s Bullying Law (February 24, 2012)
As a resident of the state of Wisconsin and someone who follows bullying legislation from around the United States pretty closely (see our summary here), I was particularly interested to learn that a proposal was being put forward to update Wisconsin’s bullying law.
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Another Well-Meaning, but Unfunded Mandate to Address Bullying (September 1, 2011)
New Jersey’s updated bullying law took effect today amid controversy and confusion.  The New York Times recently reported on the law and I have received numerous calls from folks interested in my take on certain provisions.  Bullying and cyberbullying legislation has been the topic of much discussion on this blog, and regular readers know that we see a place for evidence-based, fiscally supported state legislation that helps clarify school responsibilities and provides them with the tools to better manage bullying and cyberbullying incidents.  We haven’t seen the perfect law yet, and New Jersey’s iteration is not it either.
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Cyberbullying: A Review of the Legal Issues Facing Educators (February 18, 2011)
School districts are often given the challenging task of addressing problematic online behaviors committed by students while simultaneously protecting themselves from civil liability by not overstepping their authority. This is difficult, because the law concerning these behaviors is ambiguous and continuously evolving, and little consensus has yet been reached regarding key constitutional and civil rights issues. In the present article, the authors aim to shed light on some of the critical legal questions faced by school administrators by first reviewing several legislative actions and court cases involving problematic offline and online student speech or expressions. Next, the authors analyze the dispositions and extract principles that can inform and direct prevention and response efforts by educators. They conclude by underscoring the challenges of balancing legal guidance with humane consideration of the context and consequences of cyberbullying victimization among youth.
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The Great Debate: Should Cyberbullying be a Criminal Offense? (November 30, 2010)
We have received numerous requests from high school students and teachers over the last several weeks for information about whether or not there should be a criminal law to cover cyberbullying. It seems that this is a national high school debate topic this year.
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Cyberbullying Laws and School Policy: A Blessing or Curse? (September 28, 2010)
Many schools are now in a difficult position of having to respond to a mandate to have a cyberbullying policy, without much guidance from the state about the circumstances under which they can (or must) respond. When folks ask me if I think there needs to be a “cyberbullying law” I basically respond by saying “perhaps – but not the kind of law most legislators would propose.” I would look for a law to be more “prescriptive” than “proscriptive.”
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The Current State of Cyberbullying Laws (August 3, 2010)
It is imperative that everyone who works with youth, but especially law enforcement officers, stay up-to-date on the ever-evolving state and local laws concerning online behaviors, and equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to intervene as necessary.
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