In Brief

Bill would increase penalties, require reporting on school bullying

By: - December 27, 2021 7:00 am

The Trenton Statehouse (Getty Images)

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.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.