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R.I. officials back policy on cyberbullying

Associated Press / June 29, 2011

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PROVIDENCE — The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly yesterday to send to the governor’s desk a bill that would create a single, statewide policy to combat cyberbullying in schools.

The House of Representatives voted to 65 to 3 to pass a Senate version of the legislation. The House had approved its own bill in May. The legislation lays out new rules for teachers and administrators on how to respond to reports of bullying. It also spells out how to notify parents and discipline students.

“No parent should bury a child and certainly not because of ‘bullycide,’ which is bullying that leads to suicide,’’ said Representative Deborah Ruggiero, Democrat of Jamestown.

The bill is designed to address what educators say is a growing problem of students using e-mail, text messages, and social-networking websites to bully or humiliate peers. It would prohibit students from browsing social-networking websites, like Facebook, during school hours unless they have a teacher’s permission.

It was not immediately clear whether Governor Lincoln Chafee will sign the bill into law.