Springfield, IL. – Yesterday, State Representative Margaret Croke’s legislation to strengthen and expand Illinois’ cyberbullying statute passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 50-5. After passing the Illinois House with bipartisan support in March, the bill now heads to Governor Pritzker to be signed into law. The legislation updates Illinois’ existing cyberbullying statute, which has not been updated since 2012, to expand the definition of bullying to add additional protected characteristics, create new requirements for the Illinois State Board of Education to collect data about the issue, and guarantee parents and guardians are notified about incidents within 24 hours when it occurs.
“As social media has become a bigger part of young people’s lives, we’ve seen that bullying is no longer confined to the school yard — it can follow kids everywhere. We need our laws to reflect the current reality so our students can be better protected from cyberbullying, which we know can have a huge impact on youth mental health,” State Representative Margaret Croke said. “This legislation helps ensure that our institutions are prepared to address instances of cyberbullying, and can understand when and why they occur so we can prevent them from happening in the first place. I’m grateful to Senator Sara Feigenholtz for her leadership in moving this bill through the Senate, and I’m thrilled to see it heading to Governor Pritzker for signature. As the mother to two young children, I know that this legislation is a win for parents, students, and schools across our state.”
Among other components, the legislation expands the definition of bullying to add academic status, pregnancy, and homelessness as additional protected characteristics. It also requires the Illinois State Board of Education to collect annual data reports from all school districts, both public and private, that use non-identifiable data to report each bullying incident and the action taken. This reporting requirement would be in place for six years. It also requires schools to notify parents within 24 hours of a bullying incident as well as all threats, suggestions, or instances of self-harm as the result of bullying involving their child – whether they are the bully or the victim – and requires the school to exhaust all notification methods in those 24 hours.
“I’m so proud to have worked with Representative Croke on this legislation to help keep our students safe and to lead it across the finish line in the Senate. As we navigate an ever-changing social media and internet landscape, we must ensure our laws evolve as well to prevent cyberbullying and best understand how to address it when it occurs,” said State Senator Sara Feigenholtz. “I’m confident that this new legislation will have a positive impact on our students, our schools, and our families throughout our state, and I look forward to seeing it become law. As teen mental health reaches a crisis point, passing this legislation could not wait any longer.”
As social media has grown in usage, it has contributed to worsening mental health among adolescents — especially among teenage girls, and studies from Pew Research show that nearly half of all teenagers have faced bullying or harassment online. Suicide has become the second-highest cause of death in the country among people ages 15-24, showing the importance of ensuring our policies can help keep our students safe.
To read more about HB3425, visit ilga.gov.