SACRAMENTO – California Governor Jerry Brown Wednesday signed into law a legislation to combat cyber sexual bullying at schools.
AB 2536, authored by Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), also requires the California Department of Education to post information about the issue on the California Healthy Kids Resource Center internet website, and adds cyber sexual bullying to the definition of cyberbullying.
“More and more teenagers are sharing sexual, nude or semi-nude photos or videos, and while this type of activity may seem harmless at first, these photos and videos can easily be downloaded, copied, disseminated, widely circulated and posted online instantly with a push of button, with or without the consent of those depicted in them,” said Assemblyman Chau.
“This behavior can lead to bullying and has unfortunately resulted in some teenagers committing suicide.”
Sexual bullying is a form of bullying commonly facing teenagers. It is a behavior that can include harassing an individual or others through comments and actions that are sexual in nature.
Furthermore, sexual bullying can occur in person or online.
The act of sexting, where sexual, nude or semi-nude images are exchanged electronically, has become a recent occurrence in the lives of young people, and can be a major form of sexual bullying, or cyber sexual bullying.
Approximately 20 percent of teenage boys and girls have sent a sext message, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Additionally, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, some 75% of 12-17 year-olds own cell phones, and one in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day or 3000 texts a month; this can create conditions for sexting and cyber sexual bullying.
Cyber sexual bullying presents complex challenges to schools as they strive to provide safe environments for learning.
Though public school administrators have the authority to discipline students when bullying causes harm to a student or violates school policy, numerous administrators have expressed confusion on how best to address the issue of cyber sexual bullying, because it is not defined under current law.
AB 2536 will clarify for administrators that cyber sexual bullying is a violation of school policy.
It also looks to the California Healthy Kids Resource Center, which maintains a comprehensive collection of reviewed education materials for use by teachers, administrators, and other professionals, as a tool to assist in addressing this issue.
“AB 2536 will help educate students on the potential consequences of cyber sexual bullying and help students avoid this type of behavior,” concluded Assemblyman Chau.