David’s law classifies cyberbullying as a punishable crime


Photo by http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture

graphic by Langley Leverett

Story by Jenna Williamson, staff writer

A life is lost, a sense of security is lost, and what remains is a broken family. One in three adolescents will experience a cyberthreat online in their lifetime, and many more will have to overcome the invisible trauma it leaves behind. 

On June 9, Greg Abbott signed into action David’s Law, which is a bill proposed by Texas senator Jose Menendez after David Molak, 16-year-old boy from Alamo Heights High School was bullied online and eventually took his own life. Soon after, his parents began a foundation titled David’s Legacy Foundation, which activates for progressive action in schools to attempt at reigning in harmful online incidents.

Menendez worked closely with David’s family in creating this bill and wanted to establish a punishment system instead of a prevention. The bill’s goal is to take direct action in situations when an individual has harmed themself or taken their own life.

The bill will classify bullying as a misdemeanor and allow courts to issue subpoenas to reveal the people behind the bullying.

Naysayers want prevention to be more important than punishment, especially in the lives of minors. School boards are concerned that they will not have the funding to put forth effort into these new programs. David’s law sets a way for cyber bullying to be prevented and punished. However, most schools have their own way of handling these incidents, even though they may not be recognized by many students.

“I didn’t know and still don’t if our school has a system for handling cyber bullying,” sophomore Emmy Stroud said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we did, but it’s not something that’s known by students, unless they go through a first hand experience.”

Many school districts, including ours, have firewalls in place to keep students safe from inappropriate material and messages.

“You can download a program that can be set up to flag key words or phrases,” computer science teacher Mark Ahrens said. “Some programs also can send reports letting the administrator or adult set up with the program know about the issue.”

One of the main goals of David’s Law is to make sure that the awareness of cyberbullying is known nationally, statewide and even locally. While some students may not know what Texas High does, that doesn’t mean it’s tolerable.

Cyberbullying is not to be tolerated. There was a law passed this summer on that and it gives us specifications on what to do in those instances.”

— Julius Anderson

“The state of Texas, as well as Texas High School feel that it is a very inappropriate thing to do and they give us guidelines on what we can and can’t do,” assistant principal Julius Anderson said. “Cyberbullying is not to be tolerated. There was a law passed this summer on that and it gives us specifications on what to do in those instances.”