California Clarifies Cyberbullying Law to Include Social Networks

The new law expands the definition of bullying to include posting messages on social networks.

by Tanya Roscorla / July 18, 2011 0

When California's anti-bullying law was drafted in 2006, social networking hadn't exploded yet, so it wasn't included in the education code.

But now, students use social networks to communicate every day. And they're using it to bully others.

In legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Friday, administrators will be able to suspend or recommend students for expulsion from school if they use social networks to cyberbully others.

And it also encourages school districts to implement strategies that will reduce school crime and violence, including bullying through social networking sites.

Assembly Bill 746, introduced by Assembly member Nora Campos (D-San Jose), amends section 32261 of the education code, which deals with providing a safe school environment for students.

"Given the recent rise in cyberbullying and the tragic impact it has had and continued to have on the
lives of students, I believed that it was necessary to specifically include, I think that's the key, social networking sites into the existing education code," Campos said.

Current law specifies that students can be suspended or recommended for expulsion if they bully another student through an electronic act. The Interagency School Safety Demonstration Act of 1985 defines an electronic act as sending an email, text, voicemail or photo through an electronic device.

The clarification in AB 746 will give administrators a disciplinary tool to use with students who bully others on social networks. And that's not something they had before. 

"People are not bullying like they used to. Before, they bullied on the playground. Now they're bullying online," said Campos. "So what they (administrators) said is that as technology changes, and as times change, we need to change with it, and that means the law has to change."

The new law will go into effect on January 1.


AB 746 bill text