Following the suicide of an Alabama fifth grader, the State House unanimously passed a bill aimed to protect school children against cyberbullying.
Montgomery-Democrat State Rep. John Knight introduced HB366, also known as the Jamari Terrell Williams Act, after the bill’s namesake committed suicide in October after he was bullied online.
Existing law already prohibits bullying in schools, but Knight’s legislation expands the existing law to prevent to prevent student against student harassment, intimidation, violence, and threats of violence to students off campus as well. HB366 specifically includes cyberbullying in the definition of harassment.
The legislation seeks to ensure that each local board of education adopt procedural policies to manage and possibly prevent these acts against any student by another student. It also requires all Alabama schools to develop plans or programs, including, but not limited to, peer mediation teams, in an effort to encourage students to report and address incidents of harassment, violence, or threats of violence.
The bill, which had 88 co-sponsors in the 105-member House, now moves to the Senate for consideration.