Utah Anti-Bullying Law: Know the Facts

On March 22, 2011, Senate Bill 304 (SB 304), which adds cyber-bullying and hazing to an existing anti-bullying prevention policy, was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert after passing a vote of 64-11 on Capitol Hill.

SB 304 was proposed by Utah State Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R-Monroe), who is said to have been motivated to take action after learning the sad fate of a young boy from his district who was the victim of cyber-bullying. The child was so severely harassed over the Internet and at school that he saw no other escape than to commit suicide.

What is cyber bullying? 

Cyber bullying takes place online, through a cell phone, or through any other device that sends text or images. Cyber-bullies send information knowing that it will hurt, embarrass or threaten an individual. The new Utah law also considers whether or not the victim had prior knowledge of, or consented to, distributing the damaging content.

Unfortunate stories like these are occurring across the nation. A vicious cyber-bullying attack occurred in Connecticut, where police are investigating a degrading Facebook group that was created to rank about 100 high school girls on their alleged sexual activity. Some girls are as young as 14.

Hazing: What is it and why is it a problem?

Along with cyber bullying, SB 304 addresses the problem of hazing. Often, hazing is committed for the purpose of initiating an individual into a school, office, or a school-sponsored team, organization or program. It usually includes whipping, beating, and many other violent actions and is often done as a seal of approval, humiliating an individual in order to accept them as a new member of a group or association. 

One example is the current investigation of six Ogden High School students who are being accused of forcing a junior high student to push gym equipment across the gymnasium floor with his nose.

Implementing the Anti-Bullying Law

With the SB 304 additions, both students and school employees will have more protection, whether they are on school property, at a school-sponsored event, on a school bus or at a bus stop. The new law also covers instances where a student might be traveling for a school-related purpose.

By September 1, 2011, the Utah State Board of Education is expected to develop guidelines and policies to include cyber bullying and hazing to their current bullying policy. Elementary, Secondary, and Charter schools will begin to gather input from the school community, including students and parents, teachers and staff members, and school boards, to begin to draft the new policy changes.

The updated policy will be posted on the Board of Education’s website this September. Schools will have one year to implement and enforce the changes, and educate and train their staff in the new policy by September 1, 2012.

No child should ever have to endure the pain of falling victim of any form of bullying. If you or a teen you know is a victim of bullying, cyber bullying or hazing, contact us! You don’t have to suffer it alone!

Parents, what input would you give about the new policy changes? Teens, how often do you see bullying in your school and what can be done to stop it?

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About malloryblack

Hi Everyone! I am a Communications Intern for Salt Lake County Youth Services. Currently, I am finishing up my last few credits at Salt Lake Community College and am about to transfer to Utah Valley University to finish my degree in Public Relations this August. I'm planning to head into non-profit public relations for my career. I enjoy reading books about psychology and finance, getting to know new people, and volunteering within the community. I'm really enjoying my time with Youth Services, especially with my contributions to the Youth Booth Blog. I invite all comments :) So, talk with me! I'd love to hear your perspective and opinions!
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5 Responses to Utah Anti-Bullying Law: Know the Facts

  1. whatsaysyou says:

    Hello Mallory, thanks for sharing this post. It is good to see that Utah finally has an anti-bullying law in place. Cyber bullying is never pleasant and no child should ever go through it.

    • malloryblack says:

      Thanks for your comment, whatsaysyou! Sorry about the delay in my response.

      Yes, I was very much excited to hear about the cyberbullying additions to the law coming together– not so much to hear the horrible stories that took place.

      Have you heard about the recent story coming out of Oak Park, Illinois? A teenager was arrested on charges that he created a Facebook list ranking his former female classmates on both their attractiveness and sexual history. It’s really sad and unfortunate that with all the advances in technology has to come all this… exploitation. Very scary.

  2. Noelle Nielson says:

    What if it’s a Facebook page that says they are not liable for it? But are taking other people’s photos, and using it to harass them. Which what they are saying is lies.

  3. SARAIJ says:

    HI! Im having a HUGE problem with my friends and she really needs help but I don’t know what to do!!! Here’s our conversation copy pasted from messages….
    Her: Help :(

    Me: What’s wrong!?

    Her:Today i was looking through my comments on keek and at least half of them were people saying that i was fat and/or ugly but no one really knows how much i struggle with my weight and today in science my teacher told us that we would have to weigh ourselves at school to see much we’d weigh in space and i started crying because i was scared of seeing my weight and having other people see it too. And im like-on the edge of becoming anerexic

    Me:Just refuse to and you can have your parents write a note about you not weighing yourself and stuff….

    And show your parents those comments!!!!

    Her:but then my dad’ll freak out and become even more protective. And ive tried talking to him about people saying im fat and then he just puts even more pressure on my to loose weight

    NOTE; her dad puts her on so many diets and I’m told he had called her fat times before….

    Me: Shoe your mom and tell her and tell her that you don’t want your dad to know and then state your problem…

    Her:but then she’ll think she needs to be a health freak too
    im alone on this one…

    Me:Who wrote the comments!?

    Her:people i dont even know
    _______________________
    That’s it but I’m so worried because I was called fat once as a joke and I started starving myself and just barley realized it was stupid of me (I’m trying to maintain regular diet don’t worry) but she is so young and I can’t stand her being cyberbullied… We’re younger than 14….

    • Tammy Champo says:

      Saraij,
      Thank you for being a good friend and letting her know you support her. You might want to talk to a school counselor or a trusted adult at school about your concern for her and ask for their advise. They can intervene and talk with your friend and get her parents involved if necessary. If you are in Utah, we also have counselors who can talk to your friend about anything. You might also suggest that if your friend doesn’t know the people who are commenting on her Keek account and the comments are rude and bothering her, that she consider deleting her account. At the very least looking into the privacy settings to see if she can block comments from people she doesn’t know. Hopefully that helps. Feel free to call or comment if you have any other questions. 385-468-4500

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