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Illinois Law to Tackle Online Bullying Takes Effect

Illinois Law to Tackle Online Bullying Takes Effect

 

Among some 200 new laws that came into effect in Illinois at the start of the new year is one that allows tougher action against kids who take to the Internet to bully their classmates or make threats against their teachers.

Under the new law, school boards have the power to suspend or even expel students who make an explicit threat online against another student or school employee.

This is the result of House Bill 3281 which passed in August of 2011. Until now, if a child made a threat online school administrators felt their hands were tied if the comment was made out of school hours, off school property and using a personal computer.

However, HB 3281 allows administrators to discipline students who make an online comment that “could be reasonably interpreted as threatening to the safety and security” of a student or member of staff.

The move to clarify the law reportedly began after an incident six years ago in which a student at Oswego High School posted a message online complaining about his teachers, saying “I’m so angry I could kill.” The school felt itself powerless to discipline him because he had posted the message out of school hours, off of school property and using his own computer.

This new stipulation adds to Illinois’ existing anti-bullying policy. Specifically, the Illinois School Code’s bullying policy defines cyber bullying to include threatening messages sent trough text messaging, email, Facebook, and other social networking websites. It also stresses that schools are responsible for educating students, parents and personnel about what qualifies as bullying, and the measures that will be taken if a child is found to have broken the new rules.

Rep. Sidney Matthias, in a comment made to the Chicago Sun-Times, said that he sponsored the bill because existing laws “weren’t specific enough,” adding, “We’re making it clear to students that this is unacceptable behavior.”

 

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to John Steven Fernandez.

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20 comments

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3:03PM PST on Jan 16, 2012

Hopefully this law will be used.

4:23AM PST on Jan 12, 2012

I am glad they passed this law. It has been needed for a long time. Bullying is for jerks.

1:30AM PST on Jan 8, 2012

Thanks for the article.

1:11PM PST on Jan 7, 2012

there should be universal online bullying laws. care2 alone has its share of bullies that need to be dealt with...but they're not kids, they're senior citizens.

2:18AM PST on Jan 7, 2012

Thanks.

9:11AM PST on Jan 6, 2012

What happened to the on-off switch? Is it broken?

10:37PM PST on Jan 5, 2012

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others.
Later on Sex Education should be taught from Contraceptives, Masturbation,LGBT and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. They should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy,STD, AIDS ) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry and Algebra. They can learn this in college if need be. I believe this is a solution. Nipping it in the Bud so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

10:44AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

as someone who grew up being constantly bullied in Illinois, i am very grateful for this. it would have been nice if this was in place years ago. so many times the teachers in illinois would look the other way while this happened, even punish the ones being bullied for bringing it to the teachers attention. this included things that happened on school grounds. i hope this law brings some change

9:44AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

These type of laws hurt all children. A better law would have been to provide the much needed mental health services that bullier needs. Leave it to the government to take away education from a child that needs more education. If only we could take the easy way out as our governent has become acustomed to doing.

7:20AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

The new law is a good law – but the proof will be in the enforcement.

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