State Senate Bill Targets Cyberbullying

Dave Williams

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

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State Sen. Jason Anavitarte introduced legislation this week aimed at protecting teenagers from cyberbullying and other negative effects of social media.

Anavitarte, R-Dallas, and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who presides over the Senate, first announced they planned to target social media last summer.

“Since we announced this initiative, Senator Anavitarte and I have worked with industry and education leaders, online safety advocates, and legal experts to craft this legislation, and we will continue working with them as this process moves forward,” Jones said Friday.

“We believe Senate Bill 351 is an important step forward in protecting Georgia’s children and giving them the tools they need to be safe in their use of social media and other technologies.”

Numerous studies have found overuse of social media to pose a significant danger to young people, particularly girls, increasing their risk of suicide.

The legislation would require social media companies to take concrete steps to verify the age of their users. Existing rules requiring schools to monitor bullying would be updated to reflect the realities of modern technology.

The bill also would require the state Department of Education to develop and periodically update programs to educate students to use social media safely and require local school systems to adopt, implement, and enforce social media policies and submit them to the Georgia Board of Education for review. Districts that fail to comply would be subject to losing state funds.

“No kid should have to worry and stress about bullying and online threats,” Anavitarte said. “We will continue to promote efforts to have strong families against the poison eroding America.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Youth.