New Ill. Law Targets Student Cyber-Bullying

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com January 03 2012 5:15 PM ET

Illinois will attempt to address the problem of bullying in school, often directed at LGBT students, with a new law allowing for suspension or expulsion of students who make threats online.

The law, passed in August, took effect Sunday. It “allows administrators to discipline students who make any online threat that ‘could be reasonably interpreted as threatening to the safety and security’ of another student or staff member,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The push for the measure grew out of an incident six years ago in which a student at Oswego High School posted an online message lambasting his teachers, saying, “I’m so angry I could kill.” The boy refused to delete the message until his parents took action, and school officials were powerless to discipline him, since the message was posted outside school hours and from a private computer.

While studies indicate half of all students nationwide have been subject to cyber-bullying, Illinois House minority leader Tom Cross, who supported the legislation, said he thinks bullying has always been a problem, and the Internet is merely another tool for it. “I don’t think kids are getting any meaner,” he told the Sun-Times. “Thirty years ago, a bully might have said something in class — now they’ll say it on the Internet.”