During Texas’ 85th Legislative Session, Senate Bill 179, formally known as David’s Law, was passed and signed into Texas State law. Named after 16-year-old David Molak, a high school student in San Antonio, who died by suicide after being harassed online, the bill aims to bring awareness and new policies to schools to combat cyberbullying.
Senate Bill 179 expanded authority to school districts, allowing schools to address cyberbullying that occurs off-campus and outside school-related or school-sponsored activities based on specific criteria.
Definition of Bullying
Bullying is defined as a single significant act or a pattern of acts by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power and involves engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that:
- Occurs on or is delivered to school property or the site of a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off school property;
- Occurs on a publicly or privately owned school bus or vehicle being used for transportation of students to or from school or a school-sponsored or school-related activity; and
- Cyberbullying that occurs off school property or outside of a school-sponsored or school-related activity if the cyberbullying:
- Interferes with a student’s educational opportunities; or
- Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a classroom, school, or school-sponsored or school-related activity.
- Has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property;
- Is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student;
- Materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of a classroom or school; or
- Infringes on the rights of the victim at school;
and includes cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying means bullying that is done through the use of any electronic communication device, including through the use of a cellular or other type of telephone, a computer, a camera, electronic mail, instant messaging, text messaging, a social media application, an Internet website, or any other Internet-based communication tool.
How to use the bullying flowchart
In order to address the legislative change, the following bullying flowchart helps parents and the community understand if a student has been bullied according to the legal definition. A checkmark must be provided in each section for statements that are true. If any identified section does not receive at least one checkmark, then the act is not considered bullying by state law but may violate the Student Code of Conduct (en Español). Follow the conditional ‘yes/no’ logic for the questions regarding the use of electronic communication devices to determine if an incident is considered bullying.
To report an incident of bullying, a parent or student may complete the Parent/Student Bullying Report form and submit it to their campus administrator or report an incident of bullying through Crime Stoppers.