Breaking Down Michigan’s New Cyberbullying Laws

 

Like most states, Michigan already has cyberbullying laws in place. The laws currently in place state that each school district has to have a policy against cyberbullying. However, those laws are specific to schools, and their students. Cyberbullying can happen outside of schools and to individuals who have been out of schoo for many years. This new law actually makes cyberbullying a crime and gives law enforcement a way to enforce anti-cyberbullying laws against people who aren’t students or when students do this outside of school and off of school grounds. It also covers if the behavior is committed using a telecommunications access device, or if the telecommunications service provider is owned by or under the control of the school district.

Michigan lawmakers took action to fight cyberbullying last year, and the law took effect at the end of 2018.

 

These new laws were largely put into motion because of the tragic loss of Zoe Johnson , a 13-year-old Michigan girl . Her mother believes she committed suicide after being bullied and taunted by classmates on Facebook. At the time, police said the social media posts did not indicate criminal wrongdoing.

 

“Cyberbullying can cause just as much trauma as traditional bullying so it’s important that it be considered a crime,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, in a statement. 

 

Part of Michigan’s anti-bullying laws is giving a definition of bullying and cyberbullying:

Stopbullying.gov, states that, “Bullying” means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication, including, but not limited to, cyberbullying, that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

“Cyberbullying” means any electronic communication that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

 

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