A new Missouri law puts shools in the gray area on how to handle the online activities of their students, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatach. The statute, which goes into effect Friday, requires school districts to put the terms “cyber-bullying” and “electronic communications” into their anti-bullying policies, which have been required since 2007. Advocates hope the measure will help districts focus on behavior that many say is growing more prevalent and can be more harmful than traditional bullying. Some districts that have drafted such policies say changes have made a difference.
Some lawyers say adding the phrases required under the new law won’t legally change anything. “All this statute did was add a couple of words to it to just make sure that schools were covering it,” said Robert Useted, an attorney for five school districts in St. Louis County. “It has been my experience that most school districts already had a policy dealing with electronic bullying.” The law was prompted by the case of Missouri teenager, Megan Meier, who took her own life in 2006 after being victim to online bullying. Since then, at least 45 states have changed harassment laws to include cyber-bullying.