In a move to update state law dealing with student bullying, on and off of the school campus, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) has introduced as her first legislative proposal -- Assembly Bill 256.
Current law defines bullying as harassment or threats that are used to intimidate students, disrupt the classroom, invade the right of the students and create a hostile educational environment. Students in grades 4-12 who perpetrate such behavior can be suspended or expelled if the bullying occurs while traveling to and from school, on campus during school hours or during or traveling to a school sponsored activity.
According to Assemblymember Garcia the current law is silent on cyber-bullying, where students use computers, smartphones and social media to perpetuate harassing and threatening behavior at any time or location they choose.
“My legislation is intended to reach beyond the school yard and stop bullying, wherever or whenever it happens,” Garcia said, “Bullying is unacceptable behavior that should not be tolerated in any way, shape or form, including harassment through electronic communications,” she added.
Garcia cited that current law does not provide that a student who bullies, will be suspended or expelled for their behavior, unless the act is related to a school activity or school attendance. She sees her legislation as closing the loophole in a law that was written before the explosive growth of electronic devices and instant communication.
“In what should be the safety of their own home, a bullied student is still vulnerable to attack. As a teacher, I have seen the damage done to the physical and mental health of victims of bullying. Once we learn of cyber-bullying in any form, this bill will remove legal barriers and stop bullies in their tracks,” Garcia concluded.
AB 256 is currently in the Assembly Rules Committee awaiting assignment to a policy committee forfurther action.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Cerritos, Artesia, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, and Bellflower.