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Cyber Bullying Laws & Legislations

Federal Legislation Against Cyber Bullying:  

Unfortunately, the United States does not currently have any federal laws in place that address the issue of bullying. However, a great deal of lobbying is being done by various groups and organizations, including ETCB, to get laws passed that confront this matter.

Individual State and Territorial Legislation Against Cyber Bullying:

Alabama:
Ala. Code Sec. 13A-11-8(b) makes harassment in any way (including harassment through electronic means) a misdemeanor.
Ala. Code Sec. 16-28B is the Student Harassment Prevention Act and requires public schools to adopt policies to prevent harassment of one student by another. It also requires the State Department of Education to implement a model policy for schools and appropriates $10,000 for fiscal year 2010-2011 for implementation.

Alaska:
Although Alaska does not have a direct statute relating to cyberbullying, Alaska Stat. § 11.61.120 is an anti-harassment statute that includes electronic means of threatening the physical well-being of another person as harassment.

American Samoa:
Am. Samoa Code Ann. § 46.3524 is a harassment statute that is used to prosecute cyberbullying and calls for each school to have its own policies for dealing with student conduct.

Arizona:
Arizona does not have a cyberbullying statute, but requires the state governing board to prescribe and enforce policies and procedures to prohibit harassment, intimidation and bullying of other students in school or any school related activity or event.
A harassment statute could be used to prosecute prolonged cyberbullying.

Arkansas:
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.
Ark. Code Ann. Sec. 5-71-217, classifies cyberbullying as a class B misdemeanor and allows for prosecution for instances of cyberbullying.

California:
Calif. Educ. Code Sec. 32260-32261 requires California public schools to adopt an interagency and comprehensive safety plan that includes cyberbullying policies. it prohibits cyberbullying directed specifically toward a student or school personnel. However, punishment for cyberbullying may only be used if it is “related to school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district or occurring within any other school district.” students are also required to train and educate each other about the dangers of cyberbullying.

Colorado:
Although Colorado does not have a cyberbullying statute it does have a comprehensive bullying statute (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 22-32-109.1) which was passed as a direct response to the Columbine shootings. The Colorado harassment statute does contemplate harassment by electronic means as well (Colo. Rev. Stat. Sec. 18-9-111).

Connecticut:
General statutes § 10-222d requires local and regional boards of education to adopt and implement anti-bullying policies. Their definition of bullying can be changed to include cyberbullying.

Delaware:
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 that there is a connection with school. Each school has to develop an anti-bullying with “no reprisal” policy that includes reporting requirements and consequences. It also requires the state Department of Education to coordinate with the state Department of Justice.

District of Columbia:
Although the district of Columbia does not have a cyberbullying statute, the D.C. Code Ann. §22-404 is a stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.

Florida:
FS 1006.147 was enacted in April of 2008 that provides a legal definition for bullying that includes bullying that occurs over the computer using school networks on or off school property. It mandates each school district to promptly develop a code of conduct against all bullying and harassment.
There is also currently a new bill that is headed to the governor for approval. It gives an actual definition for cyberbullying and gives schools the power to discipline students for cyberbullying occurrences that are school related.

Georgia:
OCGA Sec. 20-2-751.4 includes cyberbullying in its anti-bullying statute and requires local school boards to adopt policies prohibiting bullying, parental notification, age-appropriate range of consequences for bullying, “no reprisal” reporting by school employees of bullying, and procedures to remove students from a school to separate them from their victim after three bullying offenses.

Guam:
Guam Code Ann. tit. 9 § 19.69 includes electronic harassment in general harassment laws.

Hawaii:
There is pending legislation requiring the State Department of Education to adopt and implement a comprehensive bullying policy, although it does not specifically include cyberbullying in its definition.

Idaho:
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 cyber harassment.

Illinois:
750 ILCS 5/12-7.5 defines cyber stalking and makes it a class 4 felony. A new bill is under legislation that requires each school include cyberbullying in general school policies on bullying and requires each school to maintain preventative and disciplinary actions as well as detailed records of bullying incidents.

Indiana:
Although Indiana does not have a cyberbullying statute, it does have intimidation, harassment, and computer trespass laws that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.

Iowa:
Iowa Code § 280.28 includes cyberbullying in its definition of bullying and harassment and requires that the board of directors if a school district adopt anti-bullying policies.

Kansas:
K.S.A. 2007 Supp. 72-8256 includes cyberbullying as a form of bullying and requires each board of education to implement a program to educate students and school employees about bullying.
K.S.A. § 21-3438 is a stalking law that can be used to prosecute instances of cyberbullying.

Kentucky:
KY. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.080 makes harassing communications a class B felony, which includes cyberbullying.

Louisiana:
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. § 14:40.3 is a cyberstalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.

Maine:
ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 506 is an electronic harassment law that can be used to prosecute instances of cyberbullying.
ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 210-A is a stalking law that can be use to criminally penalize cyberbullying.
ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20 § 1001.15 requires school boards to adopt bullying and harassment policies.

Maryland:
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 7-424 requires a county board to report incidents of bullying, harassment, or intimidation (which includes cyberbullying) against students attending a public school.
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 7-424.1 includes cyberbullying as a type of bullying and requires the state board to create a model policy prohibiting cyberbullying. Each county board must implement this policy and must educate students, teachers, and parents by publicizing policies.
MD. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-805 and 3-803 are both laws that could be used to prosecute cyberbullying. The first penalizes a person for misusing electronic mail and the second is a harassment law.
Grace’s Law was signed by Governor O’Malley on May 2nd, 2013, making the “electronic harassment of a minor” a class B misdemeanor. The cyberbully could face a year in jail, a fine of $500, or both.

Massachusetts:
Since 2010, an extensive cyberbullying law has been put in place that defines cyberbullying, allows school authorities to punish cyberbullies, and requires each school district to provide age-appropriate instructions on bullying prevention as well as create an anti-bullying plan. Individuals engaging in cyberbullying may be found guilty of criminal charges and could face up to 2 1/2 years in a correctional facility or a $1,000 fine.

Michigan:
Executive Order No. 2007-46 was signed by Governor Granholm in June of 2010 that grants block grants to schools to develop programs, including a suggestion that schools use the money to create cyberbullying policies and programs.
Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 750.411h is a stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 750.411s is a law governing posting of messages by electronic means and directly relates to common cyberbullying practices.

Minnesota:
Minn. Stat. § 121A.0695 requires that each school board adopt a written policy prohibiting intimidation and bullying of any student, including that in electronic forms.
Minn. Stat. § 609.749 is a harassment and stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.

Mississippi:
Senate Bill 2015, which was approved by the governor on April 13, 2010, requires each school district to adopt anti-bullying policies, including cyberbullying in these policies, and to educate students, parents, and school employees about the dangers of bullying.
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-45-15 is a cyberstalking law that covers many types of cyberbullying which can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-29-45 is an obscene electronic communications law that can be used to criminallypenalize cyberbullies.

Missouri:
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.090 and 565.225 are laws that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying (the first being a harassment law and the second being a stalking law).
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 160.261 states that any crime of harassment and stalking occurring on school property must be reported to the police.

Nebraska:
Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 79-2, 137 requires each school district to adopt anti-bullying policies, with cyberbullying included in the definition of bullying.
Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-311.02 is a stalking and harassment law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.

Nevada:
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 392.915 defines cyberbullying as threatening to cause bodily harm or death to a pupil or employee in a school through electronic means.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 200.575 and 200.571 are stalking and harassment laws (respectively) that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

New Hampshire:
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 644:4 is a harassment law that is used to criminally penalize cyberbullying.

New Jersey:
N.J. Stat. Ann. § c.18A:37-15.1 includes cyberbullying in school districts’ harassment and bullying prevention policy. The school districts must set and publish the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for schools within their school district.

New Mexico:
N.M. Stat. Ann. § c.6.12.7 defines bullying to include cyberbullying on school grounds, in school vehicles, at designated bus stops, or at school activities and events and requires schools to implement anti-bullying policies.

New York:
N.Y. Penal Law § 240.30 defines cyberbullying as second degree harassment, and first degree harassment if the defendant has previously been convicted of cyberbullying.

North Carolina:
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, post sexual information pertaining to a minor, intimidate a minor, or post any statement with the intent to provoke a third party to harass a minor.

North Dakota:
Although North Dakota does not have any laws pertaining to cyberbullying, it does have harassment and stalking laws that can be used to prosecute cyberbullying.

Ohio:
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2903.211 is a stalking law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Oklahoma:
Okla. Stat. Ann. § Sec. 70-24-100.4 includes cyberbullying in the definition of bullying on school grounds. Oklahoma prohibits this threatening behavior and requires each district board of education to adopt a policy for control and discipline of all children attending public school in that district and for the investigation of reported incidents of disruptive and menacing behavior. It also requires that cyberbullying be taught with health education.
Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21 1172 is a telecommunication harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Oregon:
OR. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 339.351 includes cyberbullying in its Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Statute, but it classifies cyberbullying as its own separate category of offense.
OR. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 339.356 requires each school district to develop and adopt a policy prohibiting cyberbullying in coordination with parents, school employees, volunteers, and community representatives. This policy should contain a “no reprisal” provision as well as uniform reporting and investigation procedures.
OR. Rev. Stat. § 166.065 is a harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Pennsylvania:
24 PS 13-1303.1A includes cyberbullying in its general bullying definition. Each school “entity” was required to adopt an anti-cyberbullying policy by January 1st, 2009, which they must review every three years.
18 PA. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2709 is a harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Puerto Rico:
In 2008, “The Organic Act of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico” required school boards to adopt comprehensive bullying policies, but is unclear as if cyberbullying is included in the bullying definitions.
P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 33, § 4013 includes cyberbullying in the definition of stalking and harassment.
P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 33, § 4014 includes cyberbullying in the delinquent conduct statute that criminally penalizes stalking and intimidation.

South Carolina:
The Safe School Climate Act of 2006 requires school districts to form policies prohibiting bullying, including cyberbullying. Each school district has to adopt policies to prevent and remediate harassment, including a prohibition of bullying and resulting consequences.
SC Code Ann. Sec. 16-17-430 is an unlawful communication law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.
SC Code Ann. Sec. 16-3-1700 is a harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

South Dakota:
SD Codified Laws § 22-19A-1 and § 49-31-31 are harassment laws that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Tennessee:
TN Code Ann. § 39-17-308 includes cyberbullying in the description of harassment. The Governor signed SB 0133, which makes communications 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.

Texas:
Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.07 is a harassment law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Utah:
Utah Code Ann. § 76-9-201 that can be used to discipline many instances of cyberbullying.

Vermont:
VT. Stat. Ann. tit. 13 § 1027 is a telephone and electronic communication law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Virginia:
VA Code Stat. § 22.1-279.6 requires the Board of Education to develop policies including anti-bullying policies, which must include cyberbullying.

U.S. Virgin Islands:
V.I. Code Ann. tit. 14 § 706 is a harassment law that can be used to prosecute certain types of cyberbullying, not all types.

Washington:
In 2007, electronic harassment was added to school bullying policies. In 2010, a bill was passed to expand the tools, information, and strategies that can be used to combat harassment and bullying. It requires each school district to adopt a revised anti-bullying policy and to designate one person in the district as the primary contact for this policy. 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 is a cyberstalking law that can be used to criminally penalize cyberbullies.

Wisconsin:
Wisconsin does not have a specific cyberbullying law but has a comprehensive safety law in 2010 which requires a school district without a bullying policy to either craft one or to adopt a model policy offered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Wis. Stat. Ann. Sec. 947.0125 criminalizes intentional intimidation, threats, or abuse via electronic communication.

Wyoming:
Legislation in 2009 included cyberbullying in its definition of harassment, intimidation, and bullying and requires each school district to adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying at school. The district is required to involve parents, school employees, students, community representatives and administrators in the creation of the policy.
W.S.A. § 6-2-506 is a stalking law that can be used to prosecute cyberbullies.

 

Additional Resources
http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/cyberstalking-cyberharassment-and-cyberbullying-l.aspxhttp://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/educ/cyberbullying.aspx
http://www.cyberbullying.us/Bullying_and_Cyberbullying_Laws.pdf
http://csriu.org/cyberbully/docs/cblegislation.pdf
http://cyberbullying.us/blog/the-current-state-of-cyberbullying-laws.html