A Michigan cyberbullying law? It may happen soon. Last week, The State Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new amendment to its 2011 anti-bullying statute – a statute which requires schools to develop a plan to protect students from harassment, intimidation, and physical violence.
What Will The Michigan Cyberbullying Law Do?
If gaveled into law, the statute will officially recognize online bullying as a form of actionable harassment. Public schools in the state will have to develop procedures to protect students from cyberbullying and submit annual reports about the status of their prevention programs.
When asked for comments about the bill, sponsor Sen. Glenn Anderson expressed his pleasure with the pending regulation and explained that, these days, Internet bullying is far more pervasive and damaging than “face-to-face” bullying.
Family of Bullied Teen Spearhead’s Michigan Online Harassment Amendment
The new bill was spearheaded by Kevin Epling, father of Matt Epling who tragically took his own life at 14 after being cyberbullied by students at his school.
The Eplings started BullyPolice USA – a non-profit that addresses issues related to Internet harassment. When asked about the possible new law, the Eplings expressed seemed pleased.
Sadly, the family also took time to reminded the public that their family wasn’t the only Michigan family to suffer through a cyberbullying suicide; 25 to 30 families in Michigan alone have had to deal with the nightmare.
Potential Problem With Michigan’s Cyberbullying Law
Legally speaking, what makes the Michigan cyberbullying bill interesting is that the state is essentially giving schools permission to regulate their student body off campus. After all, Internet harassment and cyberbullying can happen any time of day – at school, at home and anywhere in between.
In theory, the reach of the legislation could spark a contentious constitutional legal battle. It will be interesting to see if a lawsuit spawns from this new law if it passes.