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San Antonio Moves to Fight Online Bullying With 'David's Law'

The bill would make it a misdemeanor to electronically harass or bully anyone under age 18 through means such as texts and social media.

by Peggy Fikac, San Antonio Express-News / November 15, 2016
Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

(TNS) -- AUSTIN — The parents of David Molak, a 16-year-old who killed himself after being harassed online, came to the Texas Capitol on Monday to promote a bill in his memory to try to give more protection to victims of bullying.

“There are so many children that are suffering silently … David’s Law is to protect those kids,” said David’s father, Matt Molak, speaking from behind a lectern with his son’s photograph on it.

By his side was David’s mother, Maurine, with a button with her son’s photo on her jacket. They were joined by supporters including other parents of bullied children. David had been a student at Alamo Heights High School in Bexar County.

Texas Sen. José Menéndez and state Rep. Ina Minjarez, Democrats from San Antonio, said they’d file the bill with family members on hand right after Monday’s news conference about it. Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, attended the news conference in a show of support, illustrating bipartisan support. House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, also has said he supports anti-bullying legislation.

Monday is the first day lawmakers can file bills in advance of the legislative session that begins in January.

Among its provisions, the bill would make it a misdemeanor to electronically harass or bully anyone under age 18 through means such as texts and social media.

It would require school districts to include cyber bullying in their school district policies and notify parents whose children are victims or alleged aggressors. The bill also provides for civil liability, allowing parents of victims to sue bullies’ families, w hich Menéndez said would allow subpoeana power to discover who’s doing the bullying

School districts would be required to develop a system to anonymously report bullying and would be given more latitude to place students in a disciplinary alternative education program or expel them for encouraging suicide or other serious bullying.

©2016 the San Antonio Express-News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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