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Audrie Pott Death Cited In Cyber-Bullying Law Proposed by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia


California State Assembly Member Cristina Garcia as introduced AB 256 in Sacramento. Randy Economy Photo.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia announced on Monday that she will be pushing for a law that will close loopholes dealing with student cyber- bullying as result of the recent death of teenager Audrie Pott.

Pott took her own life after three teen boys allegedly committed sexual battery at a co-ed sleepover party and distributing a photograph of the incident on social media sites.

Garcia told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that Assembly Bill 256 will be getting its first test before Sacramento lawmakers at a hearing on May 8th.

“As a teacher, I have seen the damage done to the physical and mental health of victims of bullying. Since I introduced this bill in January, we have seen the shocking consequences nationally, culminating in the recent tragic suicide of Audrie Potts in Saratoga,” Garcia said.

According to Assembly member Garcia current law “is silent on cyber-bullying, where offending students use computers, smartphones and social media to perpetuate harassing and threatening behavior, at any time, away from the school campus.”

“My legislation is intended to reach beyond the schoolyard to stop bullying, wherever or whenever it occurs,” Garcia said, “Bullying is unacceptable behavior that should not be tolerated in any way, shape or form, including harassment and humiliation through electronic communications,” she added.

Currently, bullying is described as “harassment or threats that are used to intimidate students, disrupt the classroom, invade the right of the students and create a hostile educational environment.”

Garcia pointed out that “students in grades 4-12 can be suspended or expelled if the bullying occurs while traveling to and from school, on campus during school hours or during or traveling to a school sponsored activity.”

Garcia cited that current law does not provide that a student who bullies will be suspended or expelled for their behavior, unless the act is related to a school activity or school attendance.  She sees her legislation as closing large loophole in a law that was written before the explosive growth of electronic devices and instant communication.

“As we have seen, in what should be the safety of their own home, a bullied student is still vulnerable to attack. Once cyber-bullying is discovered in a text, email, or in any form, this law will remove legal barriers for school officials to pursue bullies and protect the lives of our students.” ” Garcia concluded.

Garcia represents a wide swatch of South East Los Angeles County stretching from Bell Gardens to the Cerritos and Norwalk area.

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