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Cyberbullying Law Takes Effect in Illinois

Updated: Thursday, August 7 2014, 11:48 PM CDT

Last week, Governor Quinn signed a law to help ensure that Illinois' students aren't bullied through electronic means. That includes when students are at home and at school.

The governor's office says the new law applies to devices not owned or used by the school. It requires a school's anti-bullying policy to include an investigation for any act of bullying that may cause disruption to a school's operations or educational efforts.

State Rep Laura Fine says "this is just one more way that the schools can help our kids and the kids can get that education that they need in order to take the next step in a positive way".

The READY program is an alternative school for area students with behavior issues or those that can't function in a larger classroom setting. Last year, staff investigated 12-15 incidents relating to cyberbullying.

"A lot of the things that have happened are out of school but then the students bring it in to school the next day or a couple days later so then it starts to disrupt the school environment where we can get involved," says Principal Greg Koerner.

Sponsors of the new bill say it's gotton great feedback from parents. 

"I've talked to a couple parents whose children were victims of cyberbullying and it got so bad and the schools were bound and so they actually ended up taking their kids out of school," Fine says.

School officials believe enforcement and staying on top of outside incidents may be the biggest challenge now.

"I think what the hardest part is going to be is putting more investigation on administrators and support staff here at school to dig down deeper," Koerner says.

Let's not forget about parents. School administrators say it has to be a collaborative effort.

"Parents need to be involved, they need to be monitoring what's going on, on their Facebook, they need to be checking cell phones to see what kind of text messages or sexting that's been going on, on the phones," Koerner says.

Governor Quinn says "bullying has no place in the state of Illinois and every student should feel safe from harassment whether that's in school hallways or when using the internet or a cell phone at home".

The new law goes into effect January 1st of next year. Local districts say they're already updating their policies.

Cyberbullying Law Takes Effect in Illinois

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