WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and Lt. Governor Matt Denn have announced a new school cyberbullying policy took effect this week after a year of fact gathering, lawmaking, public comment and hearings.
Last spring, Biden and Denn responded to growing concerns about cyberbullying incidents by meeting with school superintendents and holding statewide public hearings with teachers, school officials and parents. After gathering factual evidence about the online and off-campus behavior contributing to student risk and disruption, they drafted Senate Bill 193, which passed into law during the summer with broad bipartisan support.
The law directed the Department of Education to collaborate with the Department of Justice to develop a uniform cyberbullying policy and allowed Biden's office to defend schools facing a legal challenge after implementing a new cyberbullying policy. Before finalization, the lawmakers drafted the cyberbullying policy and posted it for public comment.
"Along with the dramatic increase in electronic messaging and social networking among kids, there has been an explosion of cyberbullying in schools across our state," Biden said. "This new statewide cyberbullying policy is a common-sense tool to help schools and law enforcement better protect kids by recognizing the prevalence of online communication, the damaging effect it has on students who are victimized, and the significant disruption it causes to our schools."
The new policy defines cyberbullying as an intimidating or threatening electronic communication directed at an identifiable student or group of students that interferes with the well-being of a student. Cyberbullying can also include electronic communication so pervasive, persistent or severe that it is likely to limit the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from school educational programs.
The law prohibits cyberbullying by students directed at other students and directs districts to treat that conduct in the same way as other bullying incidents and clarifies that cyberbullying does not need to original from a school building or involve the use of school equipment.
The state's register of regulations posted the final order implementing the cyberbullying policy on March 1. The policy took effect this week and school districts have 90 days to adopt the policy.