By DANA DIFILIPPO
New Jersey Monitor
A bipartisan bill to toughen New Jersey’s anti-bullying law has won final legislative approval and awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.
The bill would require school superintendents to report bullying incidents to school boards and direct school districts to spell out in anti-bullying policies the consequences a student faces for harassing, intimidating, or bullying a classmate.
It would also boost the penalties — from a maximum of $100 to a maximum of $500 — for parents and guardians if they skip cyberbullying classes the court orders them to attend with their child.
It’s known as “Mallory’s Law” after the 12-year-old Rockaway student who died by suicide in 2017 after being bullied in school and online.
The bill was sponsored by Sens. Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris) and Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), and Assembly members Annette Quijano (D-Union), Angelica Jimenez (D-Hudson), and Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset). It passed in the Assembly earlier this month and in the Senate last December.
“Today, victims of bullying are prone to attack 24 hours a day by schoolmates or rivals texting from their phones or flexing social media muscles online,” Pennacchio said in a statement. “This bill requires school and county officials to address bullying before it gets out of control, and makes it clear that districts, school officials, and parents have a defined responsibility to protect children from aggressions that can occur on and off school property, on the internet, or by text.”
A similar bill cleared the Senate unanimously in 2019, but the Assembly failed to act on it.