Delaware Combats Cyberbullying

In light of recent issues that have come to national attention, Delaware is leading the way in reform against cyberbullying.  Based on proposals from the Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, and Education Committee Chairs, two bills that combat cyberbullying were signed into law in this state.

Leading up to the signing of SB 193 and HB 268, leaders conducted statewide public hearings.  These hearing were used to gather factual evidence from school officials and parents about bullying.

SB 193 will allow for the Department of Education to issue a final cyberbullying policy.  Each public and private school will be required within a 90 day period to adopt the policy.  SB 193 also allows the Attorney General’s office to defend schools that may face  a legal challenge due to the implementation of the cyberbullying policy.  Lt. Governor Denn said, “This statewide policy will allow schools to clearly tell students what type of social media conduct is unacceptable, and it will provide legal support from the Attorney General’s office for districts where the policy is challenged.”

HB 268 is designed to protect students against cyberbullying by requiring consistency in the reporting of bullying incidents among all schools.  The Department of Education will use this legislation to being auditing a number of schools every year, with the intent of ensuring the schools are properly investigating and reporting all bullying incidents.  HB 268 further requires school to report both substantiated and “unsubstantiated” incidents of bullying to the Department of Education.

Representative Terry Schooley, the lead House sponsor of both bills said, “Bullying in any form creates fear and intimidation in our schools, and it leads to students performing poorly, not going to school for fear of being bullied or in some cases, committing suicide. When you take into account that means of communication such as social media, computers and cell phones post information far more publicly than previous generations could ever imagine, the issue becomes even more serious. By signing these bills into law, we are trying to increase reporting and stay ahead of the curve to protect our children and grandchildren.”

This post was prepared by Chelsea Keenan Albany Law School ’14