News

State law takes aim at cyberbullying

By Jessica Schladebeck, The York Dispatch, Pa.
July 29th, 2015

Pennsylvania law comes with $2,500 fine and possible jail time for offenders

cyberbullying-lawThe face of a bully has changed over the years.

Technology has come to replace the glaring student who pushes others down on the playground or the mean girl who uses word-of-mouth to spread her gossip.

Smartphones and social media have opened an entirely new door for classroom bullies, who are no longer limited to the classroom.

“A lot of these social media issues are occurring when students are not at school,” said Southeastern School District Superintendent Rona Kaufmann. “And often times what happens through social media comes into the school in one way, shape or form, just because of the sheer amount of people who have access to it.”

Taking action: Northern York School District recently implemented rules for online behavior — for students, athletes and staff — to combat cyberbullying.

Superintendent Eric Eshbach echoed Kaufmann’s concerns about cyberbullying.

“It is a daily effort because a large majority of it doesn’t go on in the school building; it goes on after school hours,” he said. “We are definitely having conversations and encouraging students to report on any issues.”

Those reports could end up being a criminal matter under a new state law, Act 26, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed on July 10 and which takes effect in September.

Next page: What the new law means