Anti-cyberbullying bill, ‘David’s Law,’ gets house hearing at Capitol

Dozens join at the Texas State Capitol in support of David's Law, which aims to prevent and combat cyberbullying (KXAN photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Senate Bill 179, also known as David’s Law, is named after 16-year-old David Molak of San Antonio who took his own life in January of 2016 after being harassed online.

Texas lawmakers Tuesday afternoon will hear testimony from Molak’s family and other families impacted by cyberbullying. “David’s Law” hopes to tackle the uptick of bullying caused suicides by putting punishments behind the laws, including punishments for parents of bullies.

“David could be anybody’s son, anybody’s brother, anybody’s cousin, anybody’s nephew. He’s just a normal kid just happened to be a little more sensitive than others,” Matt Molak, David’s father said when the bill was filed last year.

State Senator Jose Menéndez, D-San Antonio, author of SB-179, says he wants to give police the power to unmask anonymous online bullies and give school districts the ability to investigate off-campus bullying.

“We’re hoping, and I think we’ve achieved, a statewide awareness of the problem,” Menéndez said. “Once we have an awareness, we hope the Senate Justice Committee understands completely how pervasiveness and how big this issue is and how horrible the outcome can be with the loss of David.”

KXAN found many districts cover cyberbullying under their bullying policy. This includes Austin ISD, Leander ISD, Pflugerville ISD and Round Rock ISD.

The districts also have a code of conduct.

When staff members are notified about a bullying situation they notify parents and have several options for handling bullying like counseling, class changes or discipline that could lead to expulsion.

Testimony begins at the Capitol at 2 p.m in room E2.036.

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