Anti-Bullying Bill in Texas Essay

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Texas House Bill (HB304) - Relating civil liability bullying a child

1. Title of the Suggested Bill

Texas State’s ‘anti-bullying’ house bill possesses the following key features. Its title appropriately alludes to the protection of children’s rights (CAIR Texas, 2017). If enacted, the law would:

a. Offer tools to educational institutions: This bill would authorize educational institutions to examine cases of bullying outside of school, develop a tip line that maintains anonymity, and enable greater educational institution latitude in penalizing pupils who engage in major cyber bullying (e.g., urging a child to kill him/herself).

b. Reduce the number of victims: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates reveal suicide to be the second main cause of adolescent deaths.

c. Offer tools to law enforcers: Law enforcers can, by means of summonses, increasingly expose anonymous users on social media websites who post or convey intimidating messages. The law will render e-bullying and e-harassment of a minor child (via channels such as SMS messaging, social networks, apps and internet sites) a criminal offense.

d. Offer tools to pupils and their parents: Parents will receive notifications from their child’s school if anybody bullies their child on the digital platform. Both the bully and the victim will be provided rehab and counselling.

2. Summary of the Bill

Texas State’s House ratified a state Senate bill which would curb cyberbullying among school-age kids. This Bill concentrates on several fixes, such as offering more leeway to schools to wipe out cyberbullying. This would include providing additional chances to school districts to collaborate with law enforcers on the local level, besides providing an anonymous threat-reporting system to educational institutions and their enrollees. Moreover, the law intends to provide bullies as well as the bullied with further rehab and counselling facilities. School administrative faculty would be given a day’s time to inform parents of their kids’ victimization by bullies, besides informing the parents of bullies if an inquiry into potential bullying activity on their part gleans positive outcomes. Furthermore, this law creates a felonious offense, commencing with ‘class B’ transgression and escalating to one under ‘class A’ for students with a history of e-bullying or of bullying a minor and goading him/her to commit self-harm or suicide (Chang, 2017). 

At present, this bill (HB 304) has reached the stage where the state legislature has approved of it, with the formal legal description of it being worded as: ‘relating to civil liability for bullying of a child’. It will be formally enacted beginning 1st September, 2017 (Minjarez, 2017; Texas House Bill 304, 2017). Of the several features of this law, a key aspect is its rendering of e-bullying/harassment of a minor via SMS messaging and social networks a crime. The law would necessitate incorporation of e-bullying in school district policy and alerting parents whose kids prove to be bullies, or the bullied. Another provision is civil liability, where bullied kids’ families can sue the families of perpetrators, facilitating summons power to identify the bully. This would necessitate school district formulation of a system for anonymous bullying-related reporting and greater leeway to expel pupils or place them in alternative punitive academic programs if they are found committing severe bullying such as urging a fellow student to take his/her own life.

3. Political / Historical Context of the Bill

Texas’s 2011 legislation necessitates school districts’ adoption of their own respective anti-bullying policies.
A few school districts had already instituted policies. However, the legislation provided a more comprehensive description of bullying behavior and how schools ought to respond to it. For example, policymakers explained that digital expression occurring on campus, within a school district-operated bus or at any school-connected activity may be taken as bullying. Nevertheless, it failed to incorporate similar expressions made outside the school premises, like social network posts and videos which percolate school life. According to policymakers, bullying led to physical child harm, property damage or the cultivation of a frightening, abusive or hostile atmosphere for children if it was sufficiently cruel, enduring and inescapable. (Chiquillo, 2015)

In several instances, schools need to judge by themselves regarding when to take action. School authorities need to ensure that pupils are protected, in the course of investigations by, for instance, making the suspected bully sign a pact, with parental consent, to steer clear of a fellow student. Even in case of behavior not satisfying bullying criteria, district intervention is required if pupils infringe their conduct code. However, with regard to taking disciplinary action on pupils for their off-campus doings, attorney for the Texas Association of School Boards, Blanton claimed schools need to meet a rather lofty bar owing to pupils’ Amendment I rights. According to case law, districts can act if they can establish that any speech significantly disrupts the academic process (e.g., causing an educator to lose her control over the class). In case of a perceived threat, the district must ensure pupils are safeguarded and allow law enforcers to ascertain whether or not a given activity may be considered ‘criminal’ (Chiquillo, 2015).

This bill that was ratified by all but 11 members has been labelled ‘David’s Law’, for David Molak, a sixteen-year-old who, tired of ceaseless bullying, committed suicide (Chang, 2017). 

Some occupants of the House moan while speaking about the supervision of students’ activities on the internet, averting bullying-provoked child deaths, and kindness towards each other. The latter was especially moving for a few members, since the current house session recurrently included hot discussions on abortion, migration, LGBT rights, and other contentious subjects. Wayne Faircloth, Texas State’s Republican from Galveston, when supporting the bill, claimed it was high time people began respecting one another, beginning from the House. He further added that disputing one another’s policy was fine, but offering personal rebukes wasn’t. He believes there is a need to establish an example right there in the state legislature and that it is about people’s treatment of one another, the way they speak, the way they carry themselves, and the way they pay attention and attempt at understanding and making a difference. (Chang, 2017)

Titled "David's Law" to honor the tragic suicide victim, David Molak, who took his own life at age sixteen, in January….....

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CAIR Texas,. (2017, February 21). BILLS TO TALK WITH YOUR STATE REPS ABOUT. Retrieved from CAIR Texas:

Chang, J. (2017). Texas House self-reflects as it passes cyberbullying bill. Statesman.

Chiquillo, J. (2015). Bullying proves a vexing problem for Texas schools. Dallas Dews.

Dimmick, I. (2016). Anti-Cyberbullying Law Filed with Texas Legislature. Rivad Report.

Lee. (2013, August 2013). Another Bullying Lawsuit Targets a Texas School District. Retrieved from MOAFAA:

Minjarez. (2017, February 2). Relating to civil liability for bullying of a child. Retrieved from Texas Legislature Online:

Schwartz, A. (2017). EFF opposition. Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Texas House Bill 304. (2017, February 2). Retrieved from LegiScan:

Ward, M. (2017, May 4). Cyberbullying in Texas would become a crime in wake of state Senate vote. Retrieved from Chron:

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