TN’s House and Senate Both Pass a Bill That Officially Defines Bullying and Cyberbullying in Harassment Rules

TN's House and Senate Both Pass a Bill That Officially Defines Bullying and Cyberbullying in Harassment Rules.

Nashville, Tennessee — The House of Representatives in Tennessee passed a bill on March 25 that would make sure reports of bullying are treated the same as reports of abuse. It was also approved by the Senate on April 8. The bill is now on its way to Governor Bill Lee’s desk.

Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore) introduced HB 2590, which would include wording that officially defines bullying and cyberbullying in state law. Police would have to make an official report about either of these things if they happened and tell the minor’s legal guardians about it.

The law specifically leaves out events that were reported through the SafeTN app, which is meant to gather information about threats to schools. Teenagers who are accused of bullying might have to go to youth court and get in trouble.

Russell said on the House floor that people who are bullied might think about committing suicide, and that bullying can be linked to violent acts.

“This bill will hopefully define what bullying is and notify the parents when their child is bullied,” he added.

The bill would call bullying “an act committed by a student that substantially interferes with another student’s educational benefits, opportunities, or performance.” Being bullied on school grounds, at school-sponsored events, on school-owned equipment, on school buses, and at any official school bus stop is now included in the description.

The bill says bullying can involve “physically harming the other student or damaging the other student’s property,” or even “knowingly placing the other student or students in reasonable fear of physical harm to the other student or damage to the student’s property.”

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Bullying that happens off of school grounds and is directed at other kids can still be seen as a major disruption to the learning environment, saying the bill. Besides that, it says that cyberbullying is “bullying done with electronic devices.”

There were no “nay” votes in the Senate, so it passed.

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