Michigan is the latest state to make moves towards a codified cyberbullying law. 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 New Michigan Cyberbullying Law Do?
If gaveled in by the Michigan Senate, the new amendment will officially recognize online bullying as a form of prosecutable harassment. As such, public schools in the state will have to develop procedures to protect students from cyberbullying. Moreover, if the new amendment passes, schools will have to submit an annual report to the government about the status of their cyberbullying prevention and punishment program.
When asked for comments about the new anti-cyberbullying law, bill sponsor Sen. Glenn Anderson expressed his pleasure with the pending regulation and explained that Internet bullying is far more pervasive and damaging than “face-to-face” bullying amongst today’s tweens and teens.
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 older students at his school. Ostensibly as a way to honor his son’s memory and help other cyberbullying victims, the Eplings started BullyPolice USA – a non-profit that addresses issues related to Internet harassment. When asked about the possible new Michigan law, the Eplings expressed their pleasure. Specifically, the family took the time to reminded readers that their family was not the only Michigan family to suffer the pains of cyberbullying related suicide, saying that 25 to 30 families in Michigan alone have had to deal with the nightmare.
Potential Problem With Michigan’s Anti-Cyberbullying Law
Legally speaking, what makes the new Michigan law 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.
Do you need to speak with an attorney about the legalities of a cyberbullying legal issue? Contact Kelly Warner Law.