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College Cyberbullying Law Introduced in Congress

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By Jason Beahm on November 22, 2010 8:48 AM

Cyberbullying has been a recurring topic here at FindLaw. Kids do the darndest things, and sometimes those things cross the line into cyberbulliyng law. What used to be limited to name calling and occasional punches on a playground has become amplified by new technology. Kids can take to Facebook to "kick a ginger," or cause many other sorts of online harassment. Technology has changed, but what hasn't changed is that many kids like to pick on other kids.

In response, a new piece of federal anti-harassment legislation has been introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey. CNN reports that the family of a Rutgers student, who committed suicide after having a private encounter of his broadcast online, has given Lautenberg permission to name the bill after him. It will be known as the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act."

Under the Tyler Clementi Act, schools that receive federal student aid would be required to create policies to prohibit the harassment of any student. The legislation includes cyberbullying as a form of harassment.

"The family appreciates the courtesy extended to them during the drafting of the bill, and hopes that the legislation, if enacted, will improve the well-being and safety of America's college students ... The Clementi family is humbled and gratified that the loss of their son, however painful for them, has inspired nationwide discussion and awareness of the need for a renewal of values of respect for human dignity and personal privacy, particularly for young people in this time of rapidly evolving technology," The Clementi family said in a statement.

Clementi's former roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, and Molly Wei, 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy for taping and broadcasting Clementi.

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