SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A new law signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker earlier this month is trying to curb bullying at Illinois schools.
One part of the law requires schools to report bullying incidents to parents within 24 hours of the school learning about it.
Rep. Margaret Croke (D-Chicago), the House sponsor of the law, said the increased reporting is meant to cut down on bullying incidents at schools. A parent or guardian of both the bully and the victim will have to be notified by school officials.
“We know that that is not relegated to the schoolyard, like a kid can continue, unfortunately, to just kind of incessantly bully someone throughout the day, throughout the weekend,” she said.
Another part of the law focuses on changing the legal definition of cyberbullying. The state’s anti-bullying law now includes pregnant and parenting, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance and homelessness as protected categories.
“Our students deserve policies around cyberbullying that reflect the reality we live in today, and that’s why I championed legislation this session to update our existing statute and improve protections for our young people,” Croke said.
Additionally, the new law calls for collecting and sharing non-identifiable data that school professionals hope helps them understand patterns of bullying.
“Understanding those patterns can help with the creation of more effective programs to address the harms that flow from bullying,” Khadine Bennett, the Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director at the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement.
According to a 2022 survey done by the Pew Research Center, 46% of U.S. teens reported experiencing online harassment or bullying.
The law goes into effect immediately.