DES MOINES (AP) — An Iowa House subcommittee gave its backing Tuesday to anti-bullying legislation meant to help districts combat online harassment of students on social media sites such as Facebook.
The full education committee is expected to discuss the cyberbullying bill next week.
The issue has been among the key measures backed by Gov. Terry Branstad, who held a bullying prevention summit in Des Moines last November.
Branstad's focus on the issue followed some high-profile incidents.
Last April, a 14-year-old boy from Primghar killed himself after he was bullied at school and online after telling people he was gay. In June, a Mason City girl and her mother sued the Mason City school district, saying it did nothing to protect the teen from bullying.
Matt Carver, legal services director for the School Administrators of Iowa, said the bill is designed to protect students.
“A majority of the bullying has been occurring electronically. Often that's occurring on Twitter or Facebook outside of school time,” Carver said. “It expands the authority to be able to cover electronic bullying outside of schools. We want to ensure that students are not bullied for any reason.”
The legislation is expected to get a full committee hearing later this week.
Rep. Joshua Byrnes, R-Osage, said he supported the bill but noted that parental involvement was key to protecting students.
“We can't legislate parenting. I really think that parents can help us out on this. They can help monitor things on the homefront,” Byrnes said.
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