In a 31-0 vote, the Texas Senate passed SB 179, a bill that cracks down on online bullying in schools.
Known as David’s Law, the legislation was named after David Molak, a student who took his own life at the age of 16. David’s parents say their son was tormented by cyber bullies from his high school.
The bill will now move on to the House.
The legislation would require public schools to establish some outlet for children to report cyberbullying. Administrators at the school would have 24 hours to report the incident to the victim’s parents and the bully’s parents.
David’s Law also makes cyberbullying a crime. First-time offenders would be charged with a class B misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders would be charged with a class A misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail if the bullying targeted person under the age of 18 and the intent was to provoke self-harm or suicide.
The law would apply to electronic harassment of minors on social media, in text messages, on websites and other online platforms.
Victims of cyberbullying would also be able to obtain a temporary restraining order against social media accounts used for harassment.
“Today the Senate passed SB 179 in David’s memory and in honor of all Texas families who have had their lives tragically impacted by the consequences of bullying,” said Senator Donna Campbell. “Not only did the Senate vote to enforce stricter penalties for cyberbullying today, we did so unanimously. This vote shows the powerful influence we can have when we all work together, and it would not have been possible without the passion and persistence of so many families who were willing to take their tragedy and turn it into a victory for others.”
Senator Jose Menendez, Democrat, who authored the bill credited David’s family for the success of SB 179.
“They’ve turned their pain, grief and sorrow into energy to help other Texans,” said Menendez.