EPISD is hosting community meetings to inform parents about a new law that better defines cyberbullying and encourages school districts to establish prevention and mediation policies.
“With increased use of social media, students are being impacted both socially and emotionally and at times when they are not on campus,” said Cheryll Felder, director of Student and Parent Services.
David’s Law is named in memory of David Bartlett Molak, a 16-year-old San Antonio boy who took his own life last year after being continuously harassed, humiliated and threatened by a group of students through text messages and social media.
The new law defines cyberbullying as bullying arising from a pattern of acts or one significant act that is done through the use of any electronic communication device, including a cellular or other type of telephone, a computer, a camera, electronic mail, instant messaging, text messaging, a social media application, an Internet website, or any other Internet-based communication tool.
Schools will have the authority to expel students who engage in very serious bullying. This includes bullying that leads to a student commiting suicide, inciting violence against another student, or involves releasing indecent photos of another student.
Strong protections from civil or criminal liabilities will be given to schools and school personnel who report criminal bullying to law enforcement officials. There will be new provisions in the law to promote metal health education, including education about the effects of grief and trauma on a student’s mental health and learning.
The role of school counselors will be expanded to include mediating interpersonal conflicts among students, including accusations of bullying.
“These new tools are important as bullying through social media often impacts the campus and creates a hostile environment for the victim,” Felder said.
The community meetings will address the new law that amends Education Code provisions regarding bullying to better define and encompass cyberbullying. It encourages school districts to establish a district-wide policy related to bullying prevention and mediation. It also provides for anonymous reporting for students, includes cyberbullying off campus and after school hours, and modifies the parental/guardian notification procedure.
The meeting will begin with a presentation on David’s Law followed by a discussion on how parents can help their child. EPISD Police Services also will discuss laws encompassing the sending of intimate videos and texts.
The meetings are:
- 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at Coronado High School