State officials are strengthening efforts to crack down on bullying and cyberbullying of Delaware school students.
Gov. Jack Markell signed two new laws Friday. One expands reporting requirements for incidents of school bullying.
Under existing law, school districts must report substantiated cases of bullying to the state Department of Education. The new law requires reporting all incidents of bullying, regardless of whether they are substantiated by local officials.
“Having a safe, secure learning environment is fundamentally important to a child’s education,”said Gov. Markell. “These bills will increase the safety of young people in our schools.”
In Delaware, nearly 20 percent of students surveyed last year reported that another student issued a verbal threat against them, while 30 percent reported that they said something to another student to hurt them, according to state officials.
Markell signed a second law calling for the creation of the state’s first uniform statewide policy on cyberbullying, to be adopted by all public schools. Cyberbullying is verbal bullying done online, often through social media sites.
Officials have said the attorney general's office will develop a carefully crafted cyberbullying policy that respects the free speech rights of students when they are not at school. The policy is expected to be discussed at public hearings before the state Department of Education issues a final policy for schools to adopt.