Following a year of fact gathering, lawmaking, statewide hearings and public comment, a statewide school cyberbullying policy championed by Attorney General Beau Biden and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn has been instituted.
“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.”
“This regulation is a good first step in our effort to reduce cyberbullying in our schools,” Denn said. “I am grateful to the parents, teachers, and school administrators who attended our public hearings and helped us craft a regulation that makes sense for Delaware.”
Last spring, in response to growing concerns about cyberbullying incidents, Biden and Denn met with school superintendents and held statewide public hearings with school officials, teachers and parents to gather factual evidence about the type of on-line off-campus behavior that presents risks to students and causes disruption in schools.
They also drafted Senate Bill 193, passed into law last summer with broad bipartisan support, which directed that the Department of Education collaborate with the Department of Justice to develop a uniform cyberbullying policy, and allowed the Attorney General’s Office to defend schools that face a legal challenge after implementing a new cyberbullying policy. Following the enactment of SB 193, a draft cyberbullying policy was drafted and posted for public comment before being finalized.
The statewide cyberbullying policy:
• Prohibits cyberbullying by students directed at other students and directs that districts treat cyberbullying in the same way they treat bullying incidents;
• Defines cyberbullying as electronic communication directed at an identifiable student or group of students that interferes with a student's physical well-being, is threatening or intimidating, or is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it is likely to limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the educational programs of the school;
• Clarifies that, for the school, the cyberbullying does not need to originate from a school building or involve the use of school equipment.
The final order implementing the new cyberbullying policy was posted to the state’s Register of Regulations March 1 and takes effect immediately. School districts now have 90 days to adopt the policy. The policy is posted online at http://regulations.delaware.gov/register/march2013/final/16%20DE%20Reg%20955%2003-01-13.htm.