Gov. Phil Murphy has signed “Mallory’s Law,” named after a 12-year-old Rockaway girl who took her own life after what her parents said was relentless bullying.
The girl’s mother, Dianne Grossman, has championed the reforms after Malloy died by suicide in 2017. Her advocacy led to the creation of Mallory’s Army, a non-profit group formed to lobby for updates to New Jersey’s anti-bullying policies.
The case caught the attention of state Sen. Joe Pennacchio.
“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,” said Pennacchio (R-26) in a statement.
“This new law 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,” Pennacchio said.
School districts are not only required to report all instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying, they must now include any consequences. For example, if a student died by suicide as a result of bullying, that must now be specifically reported by the school district.
Parents who refuse to comply with court-ordered anti-bullying and/or cyberharassement classes will also face increased penalties.
The penalty for non-compliance is being raised from $25 to up to $500.
Pennacchio says he believes placing a higher price tag on compliance encourages parents to take some responsibility “and put an end to their child’s dangerous conduct.”
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The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.
Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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