Illinois law aims to reduce student cyberbullying

Illinois law aims to reduce student cyberbullying

Illustration by Kaitlin Day

John Schurer, asst. news editor

A new Illinois legislation, House Bill 4207, allows school administrators to access the social media accounts of their students, in the hopes of preventing cyber-bullying.

If there is a reason to believe a student is participating in cyberbullying, parents and legal guardians could be required to grant school administrators access to private devices, including ones not used or owned by a school.

In addition, schools must implement an anti-bullying policy that includes a thorough investigation for any act deemed as bullying that causes a disruption to the educational process, whether or not it occurs during school hours or on school property.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the law in August and it was officially sanctioned this year as of Jan. 1.

“Bullying has no place in the state of Illinois,” Quinn said in an August press release. “Every student should feel safe from harassment, whether that’s in the school hallways or when using the internet or a cell phone. In our technology-driven age, bullying can happen anywhere. This new law will help put an end to it.”

House Bill 4207 is sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein and State Representative Laura Fine. Both representatives expressed firm beliefs in anti-bullying.

“Children need to understand that whether they bully a classmate in school or outside of school using digital devices, their actions have consequences,” Fine said. “Students should not be able to get away with intimidating fellow classmates outside of school.”

According to Ron Bean, assistant principal of the dean’s office, South has been proactive about implementing anti-bullying policies in the school with regards to technology.

“[The purpose of the legislation] is to match up the systems we already have in place, but [also] to let us know [what improvements can be made],” Bean said.