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Congress Decides on Kentucky Cyberbullying Legislation

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Kentucky has followed suit of other states that have recently pushed for cyberbullying legislation. With the recent trend of social media websites that allow users to anonymously interact with each other, it is no surprise that schools are concerned with the safety and privacy of their students.

HB 473 is a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Denham that aims to improve the ability of Kentucky school districts to deal with cyberbullying and harassment. Under HB 473, school districts would be required to have plans, policies, and procedures to acknowledge students who cyberbully other students.

“We are seeing serious consequences of [cyberbullying] in our communities,” noted Denham after observing the shift of bullying to the online world with the advancement of technology. Denham hopes that HB 473 will deter potential cyberbullies by expanding disciplinary options and redefining harassment, intimidation, and cyberbullying in statute.

HB 473 received 14 of the 16 votes necessary to move out of the House Education Committee, but lawmakers have persisted by advancing a separate bill on student privacy.

SB 89 would improve student privacy when storing data through cloud-based computer systems. Privacy remains a main issue of cyberspace, and a more secure online profile could deter potential opportunities for online harassment.

“We want to make sure that data is secure – that [private companies] are not taking that data and selling it or mining it,” said Sen. Jimmy Higdon, one of the bill’s sponsors.

SB 89 was passed by the committee on Tuesday without opposition.