Cyber-bullying bill advances in state Senate

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Gazette staff
Friday, October 11, 2013

MADISON—Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, announced Friday that his cyber-bullying bill passed unanimously out of committee and is available to be scheduled for a Senate vote.

The bill, SB 184, makes sure schools are able to deal with bullies who harass others on the Internet, Cullen said.

Current law does not make it clear that schools can and should take disciplinary action when off-campus bullying creates a hostile learning environment at school, Cullen said.

The bill would:

-- Require the Department of Public Instruction's model school policy to include a definition of bullying by electronic means.

-- Requires DPI's model policy to say that a bully can be disciplined if the bullying occurs off school grounds and away from school events “if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the pupil being bullied or substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school or school-sponsored event.”

-- Enhances existing law, which prohibits sending a message via e-mail or other messaging system with intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass another person. SB 184 adds “posting a message electronically where other persons can view the message.”

Cullen said that SB 184 continues the efforts of Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, who spearheaded a campaign to strengthen Wisconsin's bullying laws in 2009. Kedzie provided written testimony in favor of SB 184.

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