AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 179 -- commonly known as David's Law -- into law Friday.
The law is named in honor of David Molak, 16, who took his own life after dealing with extensive cyber-assisted bullying in January 2016, and addresses the need for Texas laws to keep pace with evolving technology.
"Cyberbullying is an epidemic in this country,” said Sen. Jose Menendez, who spearheaded the law in the Texas Senate. “David’s law will focus on prevention efforts in schools while offering consequences to those who wish to exploit and harass our children on the internet. The passage of David’s Law would not have been possible without the Molak family, the Vasquez family and so many other families who channeled their heartbreaking story into positive change."
The law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, requires schools to include cyberbullying in their district bullying policies and to notify a parent if their child is a victim or an alleged aggressor of bullying.
Schools will be allowed to combat and prevent cyberbullying by investigating off-campus cyber-assisted bullying if it affects the school environment, and schools will additionally be able to collaborate with law enforcement when serious or life-threatening cyberbullying situations come up.
"I am very happy that the Legislature decided to work on such a bipartisan issue that strikes the proper balance between eliminating cyberbullying and helping kids who need it the most,” Rep. Ina Minjarez said. “No longer will cyberbullying be acceptable in our schools thanks to the memory of those for whom this law is for. We appreciate the families, advocates, and all who made this bill possible."
Suicide rates are at an all-time high among teenagers and young adults, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In light of that, schools are also encouraged to invest in counseling and rehabilitation services for both victims and aggressors of bullying.
David's Legacy Foundation will continue focusing efforts around the education, awareness and prevention of cyberbullying through programs for teens.
“We are incredibly grateful to Gov. Abbott for signing David’s Law,” said Maurine Molak, David Molak’s mother and co-founder of David’s Legacy Foundation. “We also want to thank our San Antonio community for their incredible support throughout this entire process. This is just the beginning of our efforts to put an end to cyberbullying. We will continue to work with school districts, law enforcement and teenagers to promote and reward kindness, character and empathy among today’s youth.”
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