Cyberbullying and the States
July 9, 2010
ALA. CODE Sec.13A-11-8(b) - Creates the misdemeanor offense of harassment which includes harassing communications through electronic means.
ALA. CODE Sec. 16-28B-1- The Student Harassment Prevention Act was passed in 2009 and requires public school systems to adopt policies to prevent harassment of one student to another. Requires the State Department of Education to develop a model policy for local boards of education pertaining to student harassment prevention and appropriates $10,000 for fiscal year 2010-2011 for implementation. The model policy must contain a series of mandatory provisions relating to the procedures the school must take to address and report harassing incidents and provides for cooperation between school personnel and mental health specialists if funding can be secured.
Does not have a cyberbullying statute, but ALASKA STAT. § 11.61.120 which is an anti-harassment statute defines harassment as including by electronic means which threatens the physical well-being of another person.
Am. Samoa Code Ann. § 46.3524- Harassment statute that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying. Each school has its own policies for dealing with student conduct.
Does not have a cyberbullying statute, but does require the state governing board to prescribe and enforce policies and procedures to prohibit students from harassing, intimidating and bullying other students on school grounds, on school property, on school buses, at school bus stops and at school sponsored events and activities- Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 15-341 (A) (37) (f).
There is also a statute prohibiting harassment by electronic means- Ariz. Rev. Stat. Sec. 13-2921.
ARK. CODE ANN. Sec. 6-18-514- Includes cyberbullying in the definition of bullying and requires every public school district to adopt policies to prevent and remediate harassment including a prohibition of bullying and resulting consequences, required reporting by witnesses who are school employees of incidents of bullying, encourages schools to provide education opportunities for employees and parents on this subject.
Calif. Educ. Code Sec. 32260-32262- Requires California public schools to adopt an interagency (school/law enforcement/agencies serving youth) and comprehensive safety plan that includes cyberbullying policies. It prohibits bullying through electronic means that is directed specifically toward a student or school personnel. Students may only be punished for acts that are "related to school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district or principal or occurring within any other school district." The statute does not explicitly provide authority to punish off-campus cyberbullying. Students are required to train and educate each other about the dangers of cyberbullying.
Does not have a cyberbullying statute, but does have a comprehensive bullying statute- Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 22-32-109.1 which was passed in its initial form as a direct response to the Columbine shootings.
The Colorado harassment statute does contemplate harassment by electronic means- Colo. Rev. Stat. Sec. 18-9-111.
General statutes §10-222d- Requires local and regional boards of education to adopt and implement anti-bullying policies. The state’s broad definition of "bullying" can be construed to cover cyberbullying.
14 Del. Code Ann. Sec. 4123A- Gives school administrators the authority to take action against technology related bullying occurring on or off school grounds, provided there is a significant connection with school. Each school district must develop an anti-bullying with “no reprisal” policy that includes appropriate reporting requirements and consequences for violation. The law also requires the State Department of Education to coordinate with the State Department of Justice to formulate and revise a model bullying policy.
District of Columbia
Does not have a cyberbullying statute but D.C. Code Ann. § 22-404, a stalking law, can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
FS 1006.147- The “Jeffery Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act” was enacted in April 2008. This law provides a legal definition for bullying which includes bullying that occurs over the computer using school networks on or off school property. The law mandates each school district to promptly develop a code of conduct against all bullying and harassment. The code of conduct must include procedures for identifying incidents of bullying, determining if the incident occurred within the school district, parental notification and when appropriate notification of law enforcement authorities, and counseling services to victims of bullying. The law also contains a monitoring system to report bullying.
OCGA Sec. 20-2-751.4- Includes cyberbullying in its anti-bullying statute. The law requires local school boards to adopt policies prohibiting bullying, parental notification, age-appropriate range of consequences for bullying (can be counseling or disciplinary in nature), "no reprisal" reporting by school employees of bullying incidents, and procedures to remove students from a school to separate them from their victim after three bullying offenses.
Has a bullying statute that requires the department of education to adopt and implement a comprehensive bullying policy; statute does not specifically include cyberbullying in its definition.
Guam Code Ann. tit. 9 § 19.69- Includes electronic harassment in general harassment laws.
There is pending legislation requiring the State Department of Education to adopt rules prohibiting bullying; including cyberbullying. The proposed bill requires the Department to adopt rules for confidential reporting procedures by students and parents, a process by which bullying and cyberbullying can be reported to the county police department, and procedures establishing appropriate consequences.
Hawaii also has a harassment statute (Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 711-1106) which includes electronic harassment.
Idaho Code Ann. Sec 18-917A- Includes cyberbullying in its Student Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying statute.
Idaho Code Ann. Sec. 33-205- Gives school officials the power to suspend or expel students for harassing other students over the internet and phone.
720 ILCS 5/12-7.5- Defines cyber stalking and makes it a class 4 felony, a second or subsequent felony conviction for cyberstalking is a class 3 felony.
720 ILCS 135/1-3- Includes a definition for harassment through electronic communications.
In 2008, the harassing and obscene communications act was amended to include cyberbullying. This law provides a legal definition for cyber bullying and outlines punishment.
Pending legislation, SB 3266, Amends the school code 105 ILCS 5/27-23.7 and adds 105 ILCS 5/27-23.9 and 30 ILCS 805/8.34. This bill has passed both the Senate and the House and is waiting signature by the Governor. This bill requires that cyberbullying is included in general school policies on bullying and requires each school to maintain policies for prevention and discipline of bullying. This bill also requires that schools maintain detailed records of bullying incidents.
Does not have a cyberbullying statute but does have intimidation, harassment, and computer trespass laws that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying: IND. Code Ann. § 35-45-2-1, 35-45-2-2, 35-43-2-3. State Senator Tom Wyss is trying to expand current bullying laws to include cyberbullying.
Iowa Code § 280.28- Includes cyberbullying under its harassment and bullying definitions. Requires that the board of directors of a school district and the authorities in charge of each public school to adopt anti-bullying policies. These policies are to be distributed to school employees, students, and parents. Also, the board of directors of a school district is encouraged to develop programs designed to eliminate harassment.
IC § 708.7- Harassment law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying cases.
Amended K.S.A. 2007 Supp. 72-8256- Includes cyberbullying as a type of bullying and requires the board of education for each school district to adopt a policy and to implement a program to educate students and school employees about bullying.
K.S.A. §21-3438- Stalking law that can be used to prosecute instances of cyberbullying.
KY. Rev. Stat. Ann. §525.080- Makes harassing communications a class B felony. Includes cyberbullying between students in the definition of harassment.
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §14:40.3- While not specifically related to schools, this cyber-stalking law may be used to prosecute instances of cyberbullying.
HB 1259- Was introduced in 2010 and is currently pending. This legislation criminalizes cyberbullying. Offenses can lead to fines for bullies under 18 and jail time for those over 18. This bill also gives parents the ability to submit a report to the office of juvenile justice if their child is being cyberbullied.
ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17 § 506- A harassment law that can be used to prosecute instances of cyberbullying.
ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17§ 210- A stalking law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullying.
LD 933- A bill that died in 2009 that would have required school boards to adopt cyberbullying policies and penalties.
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 7-424- Requires a county board to report incidents of bullying, harassment, or intimidation against students attending a public school under
the jurisdiction of the county board. Cyberbullying is defined and included with bullying, harassment, or intimidation. This law outlines reporting procedures and requires that a report be given to the legislature each year.
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 7-424.1- Includes cyberbullying as a definition of bullying and requires the state board to create model policy prohibiting bullying. Each county board must implement anti-bullying policies and must publicize its policies to educate employees, students and parents.
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-805- This law criminally penalizes persons who misuse electronic mail. This could be used to prosecute cyber bullies.
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-803- Harassment law that can be used to prosecute cyber bullies.
The Governor of Massachusetts signed S2323, ch. 92 of the acts of 2010, into law. This is an extensive anti-bullying law that defines cyberbullying and gives the schools authority to punish cyberbullying occurring on school property and away from school related events. Also, each school district is required to provide age appropriate instructions on bullying prevention as well as create an anti-bullying plan. Parents, students, and school employees must receive an updated version of the school’s anti-bullying plan each year. School employees must also undergo training each year to help them adhere to bully policies contained in the plan. This bill also has specific reporting procedures for instances of bullying. Individuals engaging in cyberbullying may be found guilty of criminal harassment and could face up to 2 1/2 years in a correctional facility or a $1,000 fine.
Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 265 § 43A- Criminal Harassment law that could be used to punish cyberbullying. Massachusetts' new anti-bullying law will directly apply criminal harassment laws to students.
An Executive Order (No. 2007-46) signed by Governor Granholm in June, 2010 states that block grants will be distributed to schools to develop programs, including a suggestion that schools use the money to create cyberbullying policies and programs.
Pending legislation House Bill 4850, Matt's safe school law, requires school district boards to adopt anti-bullying policies. Cyberbullying is included in the definition of bullying.
Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 750.411h- Stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 750.411s- Law governing posting of messages by electronic means; directly relates to common cyberbullying practices.
Minn. Stat. § 121A.0695- Requires that each school board adopt a written policy prohibiting intimidation and bullying of any student. This includes bullying in electronic forms. This law gives school administrators the authority to discipline bullying that occurs outside of school as long as the bullying has a significant connection to school.
Minn. Stat. § 6093749- Harassment and stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Senate Bill 2015, approved by the Governor on the 13 April 2010, requires each school district to adopt anti-bullying policies including cyberbullying and to educate students, parents, and school employees about the dangers of bullying. This bill will also require school districts to disseminate their bullying policies to students, parents and employees. The provisions of this bill will go into force on July 1, 2010.
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-45-15- Cyber stalking law that covers many types of cyberbullying and can be used to prosecute cyberbullying. Miss Code Ann. § 97-29-45- Obscene electronic communications law that can be used to criminally penalize bullies.
Pending legislation, SB 614, will add cyberbullying to the definition of bullying.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.090- Harassment law that can be used to prosecute cyber bullies.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.225- Stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 160.261- Any crime of harassment and stalking occurring on school property must be reported to the police. This includes communications occurring online.
Does not have cyberbullying legislation specifically directed for the school environment, but does have general anti-bullying statutes.
Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-550- Stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 79-2, 137- Requires each school district to adopt anti-bullying policies, cyberbullying is included in the definition of bullying.
Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-311.02-Stalking and harassment law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann.§ 338. 121-139- Defines cyberbullying and requires that the state department of education develops anti-cyberbullying policies. These policies must be disseminated to students, parents, and school employees. Policies must contain standards for the ethical use of the internet.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 392.915- In certain circumstances cyberbullying is a misdemeanor offense.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 200.575- Stalking law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullying.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 200.571- Harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 192-F:2, F:3-5- Cyberbullying is included in the definition of bullying.
Requires that the school board of each school district adopt specific policies relating to bullying and cyberbullying. These policies must address a number of issues including policy dissemination and education and training for students and school employees.
N.H. Rev Stat. Ann. § 644:4- Harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2c:33-4- An amendment to existing law addresses bullying occurring through electronic communication. This amendment gives school officials the ability to punish students for events that occurred off school property. There has to be a connection to school for the communication to be evaluated under the authority of school officials.
N.J. Stat. Ann. § c.18A:37-15.1- “Electronic communication” is included in school districts’ harassment and bullying prevention policy. Notice of the amended policy shall appear in any publication of the school district that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures and standards of conduct for schools within the school district, and in any student handbook. This amendment gives school officials the ability to punish students for events that occurred off school property. There has to be a connection to school for the communication to be evaluated under the authority of school officials.
N.M. Stat. Ann. § c.6.12.7- Defines bullying to include “any repeated and pervasive written, verbal or electronicexpression, physical act or gesture, or a pattern thereof that is intended to cause distress upon one or more students in the school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop, or at school activities or sanctioned events. Bullying includes, but is not limited to, hazing, harassment, intimidation or menacing acts of a student which may, but need not be based on the student’s race, color, sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.”
N.Y. Penal Law § 240.30 A person is guilty of harassment in the first degree when he or she damages premises used primarily for religious purposes or if he or she places a swastika or noose on any building or real property or sets on fire a cross in public view. A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when he or she communicates or causes communication by telephone, by telegraph, by mail, or to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means, makes a telephone call with no purpose of legitimate conversation, subjects another person to physical contact or attempts or threatens to, and/or commits the crime of harassment in the first degree and has previously been convicted of it.
Ch. SL 2009-551- Adds a Cyberbullying penalty making it unlawful for any person with a computer to build a fake profile or website, pose as a minor in or follow a minor into a chat room, internet chat, etc, post sexual information pertaining to a minor, intimidate a minor or their guardian, or post any statement, whether true or false, with the intent to provoke a third party to harass a minor.
N.C. Gen Stat. § 14-196.3- Addresses cyberstalking by making it unlawful to use electronic mail or communication to inflict harm onto a person, electronically mail or communicate repeatedly for purposes of harassing or to make a false statement about another with intent to harass, knowingly allow this sort of electronic harassment happen.
Currently does not have cyberbullying specific legislation but does have harassment and stalking laws that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying: N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-17-07 and N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-17-07.1.
Pending legislation, SB 126, amends Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2921.22, 3313.666, and 3313.667- Requires that the board of education for each school district adopt anti-cyberbullying policies, provide annual training for district employees and volunteers. Also the school districts harassment policies must address actions occurring away from school that significantly disrupt the school environment.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2903.211- Stalking law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
Okla. Stat. Ann. § Sec.70-24-100.4- Includes electronic communication in the definition of bullying on school grounds. The state of Oklahoma prohibits this threatening behavior and each district board of education is required to adopt a policy for the control and discipline of all children attending public school in that district and for the investigation of reported incidents or harassment, intimidation, bullying, or threatening behavior. This statute also mandates the creation of a unit on bullying to be taught as part of health education. Cyber bullying would be included in this new unit.
Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21 1172- Telecommunication harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
OR. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 339.351- Includes cyberbullying in its Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Statute, but pulls it out from its general bullying definition as a separate category of offense.
OR Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 339.356 requires each school district to adopt a policy prohibiting cyberbullying and encourages them to develop the policy in coordination with parents, school employees, volunteers and community representatives. The policy applies to cyberbullying that occurs on school property or at school sponsored events, and bus stops and calls for a statement of consequences and remedial actions for violators. The policy should also contain a "no reprisal" provision as well as uniform reporting and investigation procedures. The school district should report annually on this subject to parents.
OR Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 339.359- Encourages school districts to incorporate training programs related to prevention into existing training programs for students and school employees. Districts are also encouraged to form task forces with parents, community representatives, school employees, law enforcement etc... to address prevention.
OR. Rev. Stat §166.065- Harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
24 PS 13-1303.1A- Includes bullying by electronic means in its general bullying definition. Each school "entity" was required to adopt an anti-bullying policy by January 1, 2009 which it must review every 3 years. The policy must contain disciplinary consequences and may require prevention, education, and intervention programs. The anti-bullying policy may include acts that occur outside a school setting if other statutory requirements are met. The introduced version of this law attempted to make safe school grants contingent on the sufficiency of a school's bullying policies and reporting procedures, but this provision did not make it into the final version. The Public School Code, however, allows certain education grants to be targeted at schools with robust bullying policies. Schools have to report to the department of education to determine if their policies are adequate.
18 PA. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2709- Harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
“Puerto Rico General Education Council Act of 1999,” amends Section 16- Evaluation of schools- The licensing and accreditation process must include a verification of the schools bullying laws, cyberbullying is not specifically included in the definition of bullying.
In 2008 “The Organic Act of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico” amended Section 3.08, 3.08a, 3.08b, 3.08c, 3.08d, and 3.08e of Chapter III of Act No. 149 of 1999- requires school boards to adopt comprehensive bullying policies. It is unclear if cyberbullying is included in the bullying definitions.
P.R. Laws Ann. Tit. 33, § 4013- Defines stalking and intimidation, cyberbullying is included.
P.R. Laws Ann. Tit. 33, § 4014- Delinquent conduct statute that criminally penalizes stalking and intimidation, cyberbullying is included.
RI Gen. Laws Sec. 16-21-26- Includes cyberbullying in its general bullying statute. Each school district must develop a model policy on bullying. The State Department of Education shall develop a model policy to assist the locals. Public schools and school districts are encouraged to form task forces with parents, volunteers, community representatives, and law enforcement agencies. Repeat cyberbullying offenders are now treated the same as other repeat bullies and can be treated as delinquents as determined by a family court.
SC Code Ann. Sec. 59-63-110 et seq. The Safe School Climate Act of 2006 requires school districts to form policies prohibiting bullying; including cyber bullying. Each local school district must adopt policies to prevent and remediate harassment including a prohibition of bullying and resulting consequences, required reporting by witnesses who are school employees of incidents of bullying, encourages schools to provide education opportunities for employees and parents on this subject. Applies to grades K-12. State Board of Education shall develop a model policy to assist with local policy development.
SC Code Ann. Sec. 16-17-430- Unlawful communication law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
SC. Code Ann. Sec. 16-3-1700- Harassment laws that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
HB 1279 failed during the 2009 legislative session. This piece of legislation required each school district to develop a bullying policy based on the requirements outlined in the bill. These policies must have reporting procedures, education programs for students, and punishment procedures. The bill described Harassment as the “threatening use of data or computer software, written or verbal communication, or conduct directed against a student or school employee”.
SD Codified Laws § 22-19A-1and § 49-31-31- Harrasment laws that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
TN Code Ann. §39-17-308-Describes harassment as including electronic communication, electronic mail, and internet services. In mid 2009, the Governor signed SB 0133which makes communications (including electronic communication) which have "malicious intent to frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Pending legislation, SB 1725, includes cyberbullying in the definition of bullying. Requires each school district to adopt policies for the prevention and education of bullying.
Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.07- Harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
Does not have cyberbullying legislation that is directed specifically for students or schools but does have an electronic communication law, Utah Code Ann. § 76-9-201, that can be used to discipline many instances of cyberbullying. Electronic harassment can be either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor depending on whether the communication is directed at an adult or a minor.
Pending legislation, H. 691, includes cyberbullying in the definition of bullying. This bill would give school administrators the authority to discipline students for actions conducted on or off school property if there is a significant impact to the school environment. Also, bullying prevention and investigation policies would be as stringent as current harassment laws. This bill would also make certain types of cyberbullying a civil offense.
VT. Stat. Ann. tit. 13 § 1027-Telephone and electronic communication law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
VA. Code Stat. § 22.1-279.6- Requires that the Board of education develop policies including anti-bullying policies. Bullying through electronic means must be included in the policies.
VA Code Stat. § 18.2-152.7:1- Computer harassment law that directly relates to cyberbullying. Makes many acts of cyberbullying a Class 1 misdemeanor.
U.S. Virgin Islands
V.I. Code Ann. Tit. 14, § 706- Harassment law that can be used to prosecute certain types of cyberbullying.
A 2007 law added electronic harassment to already existing school bullying policies. In 2010, Substitute House Bill 2801 was passed with the purpose of expanding the tools, information, and strategies that can be used to combat harassment and bullying. Requires each school district to adopt (by August, 2011) a revised anti-bullying policy and designate one person in the district as the primary contact for this policy. This person's responsibilities include receiving and processing bullying complaints and to serve as an ombudsman between different state agencies. Each school district must report back to the Superintendent of Public Instruction a brief comprehensive summary of everything it has done on this issue by August 15, 2011. Each school district must create and maintain a public website dedicated to bullying and harassment and shall post all revised policies, rules, and regulations on it.
WA. Rev. Code. Ann. § 9.61.260- Cyberbstalking law that can be used to criminally penalize cyber bullies.
West Virginia's bullying statute does not include cyberbullying. In 2009, a bill was introduced addressing harassment over the computer. While not directly relating to schools, this law makes it a crime to harass someone online. This would impact kids charged with cyber bullying.
W. Va. Code Ann. § 61-2-9a-Stalking and harassment law that can be used to prosecute cyber bullies.
Wisconsin does not have specific cyberbullying law, but passed a comprehensive school safety law in 2010 which requires a school district without a bullying policy to either craft one, or adopt a model bullying policy offered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The term "bullying" was left undefined in the statute which means the DPI or local school district will have to define it.
Wisconsin also has an Unlawful Use of Computerized Communication Systems law (Wis. Stat. Ann. Sec. 947.0125) which criminalizes intentional intimidation, threats, or abuse via electronic communication.
Wis. Stat. Ann. § 947.0125- Unlawful use of computerized communications law that can be used to prosecute cyber bullies.
Wyoming passed legislation in 2009 including cyberbullying in its definition of harassment, intimidation, and bullying. (W.S.A. § 21-4-311 through 21-4-315). The law requires each school district to adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying at school. The school district is required to involve parents, school employees, students, community representatives and administrators in the creation of the policy. The policy must include a reporting scheme, consequences, "no reprisal", prompt investigation procedures, and a strategy for protecting the victim from further acts of bullying or harassment.
W.S.A. § 6-2-506- Stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyber bullies.
Prepared by NCSL Staff
If you have any questions, please contact Susan Frederick or Jennifer Arguinzoni at (202)-624-5400.
*Information taken from individual state legislature websites and www.ndaa.org