IILUSTRATION BY MYTAM LE

Cyberbullying laws in California

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Cyberbullying is defined as the act of intentionally harassing another person online.  As social media becomes more prominent in the lives of adolescents, there has been a sharp spike in cyberbullying cases for young adults. To combat the digital epidemic, California has implemented various laws and bills in hopes of protecting the victims of cyberbullying as well as preventing it from harming others. 

Students are now increasingly being exposed to the Internet and various social media platforms, which has resulted in schools being up to date on how they can provide resources to prevent cyberbullying. Assembly Bill (AB) 2291 requires local school districts to find methods of educating and implementing an anti-bullying environment. Additionally, teachers along with the school’s staff need to have training on topics regarding bullying and bullying prevention. 

Before 2013, students who had been convicted of cyberbullying outside of the school environment were not able to be suspended or have a recommendation of expulsion. However, when AB 256 was approved, it allowed the superintendent and principal to suspend or recommend expulsion of a student who had been proven of bullying through “an electronic act.” Electronic acts, such as harassment due to sexuality, race, religion, gender, and sex, can be transmitted “on or off the school’s website” on devices such as a cellular phone or laptop.  

With sexting, the sending or receiving of sexual pictures, messages, or videos, becoming more normalized and easily available to the public, the penal code 311 protects minors from being victims of child pornography. The law states that anyone, including other minors, who has knowingly obtained material that depicts minors engaged or simulating in sexual behavior, would be convicted of child pornography. The crime can result in a fine of up to $2,500, one year in county jail or state prison, or both. 

The laws and policies mentioned above only provide a small glimpse into the laws that California has emplaced to protect the public from cyberbullying. Understanding California’s laws will allow one to have a safe and pleasant experience while using the Internet. These laws aid in providing a secure place for people to enjoy, which is what the Internet was created. More information about cyberbullying laws and policies can be found here

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