Great Intentions, Wrong Legislation, Call Your Illinois General Assembly Senator Now!April 28, 2014
House Bill (HB) 4207 is a proposal to expand the state cyberbullying law. The current law limits cyberbullying to electronic harassment of a student on school property, at school events, or by utilizing school technology.
House Bill 4207 would apply the prohibition on cyberbullying to electronic harassment of a student wherever the harassment occurs and through whatever means. The Illinois Library Association opposes this bill because applying the broad power to restrict student speech in on-campus situations to all student speech regardless of where it takes place violates the First Amendment. While cyberbullying is a serious problem, the current law already strikes the appropriate balance. If the law is to be extended beyond the school situation and restrict student speech wherever and however communicated, a narrower standard must be applied.
In addition to the clear First Amendment concern, requiring school educators and administrators to police all student speech is bad public policy. Parents--and in extreme circumstances, law enforcement--are more appropriate parties to regulate speech by minors in non-school situations. House Bill 4207 raises serious liability issues for schools to control student behavior taking place off premises and with no technological connection to the school.
We urge Illinois Senators to oppose House Bill 4207. Don't know your Senator or how to contact? Please click here.