SAN ANTONIO – It's a startling statistic. Children are more likely to die from cyberbullying than from a car crash said the Centers for Disease Control.
On Monday, Texas leaders filed a bill to put a stop to the bullying in honor of San Antonio teen David Molak.
"This is an epidemic facing our country, not just the state of Texas," said Ina Minjarez, State Representative of District 124.
At one Monday afternoon at the state capitol, Minjarez and Senator Jose Menendez filed David's Law.
Menendez spearheaded the bill after meeting with the family of Matt Vasquez, who was repeatedly harassed online through anonymous social media accounts. Matt was bullied for having leukemia and encouraged to kill himself.
Menendez and Minjarez met with school officials and law enforcement but were told current law was not sufficient.
One month later, they found out about the death of 16-year-old David Molak.
"On Jan. 4 of this year, my son David took his own life after experiencing cyberbullying for several months," said David's father, Matt Molak.
Under David's Law, it will be a misdemeanor to cyber bully anyone under 18.
The bill would require school districts to include cyberbullying in their policies on bullying and require them to allow people to report it anonymously.
"There're so many children that are suffering silently and they're afraid to speak up after being victimized," said Molak. "David's Law is to protect those kids. In the old days, once you got home you were in a safe place. Children today, they keep their phones on into the night and that's when these attacks can come."
It would also give schools the ability to investigate off-campus threats if administrators believe it's disrupting the school environment and grant more power to reprimand the offender.
"These cyber-attacks degraded [David], they humiliated him, they harassed him, they threatened him and they took him to a point where he felt there was no more hope," Molak said.
Schools and law enforcement will be able to collaborate on investigations and the bill would grant extra counseling for the victim or rehabilitation for the bully.
"Can we get a subpoena to find out the IP address and go knock on the door and say, 'Did you know someone at this address at this home is doing these things?' So parents can have a conversation with these children," Menendez said.
Leo Vasquez, Matt's father, said the process to pass the bill might not be smooth sailing, but they're ready for a fight.
"You're probably going to have critics who are going to come out and question the intent of this bill, but they shouldn't do that. The intent of this bill is to protect the children of Texas," he said.
The bipartisan bill will be debated simultaneously in the House and Senate.
Authors hope to have it signed in the 2017 legislative session beginning in January.
For more information about David Molak's legacy and David's Law, visit www.DavidsLegacy.org and click on the legislative tab.
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