By Dayri Vargas-Osorio
(NEW BRAUNFELS)- With a vote of 5-1, members of the city council voted yes Monday in favor of supporting David’s Law, a recently-filed state legislation that attempts to prevent cyberbullying.
On Monday night, the New Braunfels City Council discussed the subject and whether or not the council would support the bill.
David’s Law, a bill proposed by Texas state Sen. Jose Menendez in November, is a law created to prevent bullying in school environments as well as to identify victims and alleged aggresors.
The law is named after David Molak, a 16-year-old San Antonio student who suffered of physical and online harassment while attending school. Molak took his life on Jan. 4, 2016.
The law proposed by Menendez listed a number of proposals in the fight of cyberbullying, including the creation of a “system to anonymously report bullying and threats” as well as give school districts the power to work together with law enforcement agencies to investigate bullying cases off campus.
Invited by Mayor Barron Casteel, whom did not attend the meeting, Comal County Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp talked about cyberbullying and how this problem has reached another level over time.
“When it (bullying) goes online, it is something that is hard to get away from,” said Tharp as she talked about online bullying. “It follows you home on your phone, on your social media, is something that for children who are the recipient of that type of abuse is very hard to deal with.”
Tharp went on talking about the importance of protecting children in school environments in the community.
“This community has taken a strong stand in any issues related to our children, they are our future generation, so it’s important that everything we do, is in an effort to protect them,” said Tharp.
In addition to the efforts being made by schools and parents, Tharp mentioned the law proposed to the senate by Menendez and talked about the use of law enforcement in cases of this nature and the importance of passing the proposal.
“We need to make sure our laws match what is happening, and our laws don’t,” said Tharp. “All of the technology that’s taken place, the advances in that regard, they’re not taking into account our current criminal statutes.”
Councilman George Green from Distric 1, who voted no on the motion and is a certified teacher, talked about his perspective in this issue.
“As a classroom teacher, part of my job is to manage and monitor what’s going on in my classroom with my students,” said Green. “We have been dealing with bullying for a long time.”
Green said the use of law enforcement is not necessary when dealing with bullying.
“I don’t think creating additional laws, additional paperwork, is going to address the real issue, the real issue should be handled by the people, by the adults, by the teachers, by the administrators that are present in that school,” said Green. “Creating additional laws is not going to cure the root of the problem.”
Clayton Smaistrla, a San Antonio attorney, added to the support of the bill by explaining that law enforcement should not be used to impose actions, but to support school administrations when dealing with bullying in general.
“The goal of this is not to tell schools how to run their classrooms,” said Smaistrla. “The idea is to put in place the minimum requirements to set in place the means to report the crime.”
At the end of the discussion, Council members Meadows, Reaves, Monceballez, Peters and Garcia voted in favor of it and Council member Green voted no.