BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 1732 (Campos) 
          As Amended  April 12, 2012
          Majority vote 

           EDUCATION           8-0                                         
           
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          |Ayes:|Brownley, Norby,          |     |                          |
          |     |Buchanan, Butler, Carter, |     |                          |
          |     |Eng, Halderman, Williams  |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |     |                          |     |                          |
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           SUMMARY  :  Specifies that bullying via an electronic act using a 
          post on a social network Internet Web site includes the 
          following:

          1)Posting to or creating a burn page.  Defines "burn page" to 
            mean an Internet Web site created for purposes of harming, 
            intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person.

          2)Creating a credible impersonation of another person.  Defines 
            "credible impersonation" as knowingly and without consent 
            impersonate a person in a manner such that another person 
            would reasonably believe, or has reasonably believed, that the 
            pupil was or is the person who was impersonated.

          3)Creating a false profile.  Defines "false profile" as a 
            profile of a fictitious person or a profile using the likeness 
            or attributes of an actual person other than the person who 
            created the false profile.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  This bill has been keyed non-fiscal by the 
          Legislative Counsel.

           COMMENTS  :  A 2007 report by the National Association of 
          Attorneys General Task Force on School and Campus Safety warns, 
          "The growth in the use of technology and social networking sites 
          by younger Americans has fueled a fear among professionals that 
          cyber bullying will become the means most often utilized to 
          harass, threaten or otherwise cause distress.  And while 
          certainly more prevalent in the elementary and secondary school 
          setting, issues related to bullying or intimidation are 
          increasingly relevant in other nontraditional settings.  The 








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          Task Force recognizes that educators, parents, law enforcement 
          and other stakeholders in school safety should remain vigilant 
          in addressing bullying, including cyber bullying." 

          Last year's AB 1156 (Eng), Chapter 732, Statutes of 2011, 
          changed the definition of "bullying" to mean any severe or 
          pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including 
          communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, 
          and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of 
          pupils engaging in sexual harassment, hate violence, harassment, 
          threats, or intimidation, directed toward one or more pupils 
          that has or can be reasonably predicted to cause fear and have 
          an impact on a student's physical and mental health, academic 
          performance, or a student's ability to participate in school and 
          school activities.  

          AB 746 (Campos), Chapter 72, Statutes of 2011, added "a post on 
          a social network Internet Web site" to the definition of 
          bullying via an electronic act.  "Electronic act" is defined as 
          the transmission of a communication, including, but not limited 
          to, a message, text, sound, or image, or a post on a social 
          network Internet Web site, by means of an electronic device, 
          including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone 
          or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager.
            
          This bill includes in the definition of "electronic act" via a 
          post on a social network Internet Web site "burn pages," 
          "credible impersonations," and "false profiles."  The author 
          states, "AB 1732 recognizes both the tremendous leap in 
          popularity of social networking sites since the inception of our 
          anti-bullying law, and the potential that the resulting 
          popularity has an increased ability for cyber bullies to spread 
          their messages, through the creation of 'burn page' or an 
          impersonation page.  Therefore, these forms of cyber bullying 
          should be addressed and covered under the Education Code 
          anti-bullying provisions."  

          It can be argued that burn pages, credible impersonations, and 
          false profiles are already covered under the existing definition 
          of "electronic act;" all of which can be used as a form of 
          bullying and harassment using an electronic device.  

          Burn pages:  Media in other states have reported on the harm 
          caused by "burn pages."  Burn pages are set up with the 
          intention to harass and intimidate another individual or 








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          individuals.  Earlier this year, an article from the Deccan 
          Chronicle in New Hampshire reported that as many as 700 students 
          participated in the posting of vile and abusive messages about 
          their peers through burn pages, some of which were sexual in 
          nature.  The article suggests that the phenomenon was inspired 
          by the film "Mean Girls," which depicts students sharing gossip 
          and writing hurtful comments using a burn book.  Local and 
          school police officials in New Hampshire have warned students 
          about the consequences of such participation, including charges 
          of harassment and assault that could lead to imprisonment.  

          Burn pages have been used to make written threats.  The Virginia 
          Gazette reported in February 2011 that James City police used 
          information from a burn page to charge four teenage girls with 
          making a written threat to kill or harm a 16-year-old girl.  

          Credible impersonation:  This bill defines "credible 
          impersonation" as knowingly and without consent impersonate a 
          person in a manner such that another person would reasonably 
          believe, or has reasonably believed, that the pupil was or is 
          the person who was impersonated.  A person who creates a page 
          using the identity and picture of another person is an example 
          of impersonation.  

          False profiles:  Impersonation is a type of "false profile."  
          Another type of false profile is one where a fictitious profile 
          is created that may or may not be based on the characteristics 
          of another person.  In 2006, a 13-year-old Missouri girl 
          committed suicide after a 16-year-old boy she befriended on a 
          social network Internet Web site posted cruel messages about her 
          and then "dumped" her.  The profile of the 16-year-old boy was 
          fictitious, created by the mother of a former friend who wanted 
          to find out what the 13-year-old girl was saying about her 
          daughter.   

          Existing law provides that a pupil may be suspended or expelled 
          if the pupil has intentionally engaged in harassment, threats, 
          or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or 
          pupils, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the 
          actual and reasonably expected effect of materially disrupting 
          classwork, creating substantial disorder, and invading the 
          rights of either school personnel or pupils by creating an 
          intimidating or hostile educational environment (Education Code 
          Section 48900.4).  









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          The incorporation of burn pages, impersonations, and false 
          profiles in the definition of bullying via a post on a social 
          network Internet Web site does not mean that any student who 
          creates these types of pages will be automatically suspended or 
          expelled.  The courts have ruled that disciplinary action as a 
          result of bullying via a social network Internet Web site is 
          contingent on whether the action causes a substantial disruption 
          to school activities or work of a school.  If a student is 
          suspended or expelled and the activity is not found to have 
          caused substantial disruption, it could constitute a violation 
          of freedom of speech.  This is based on the 1969 case of Tinker 
          v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (393 U.S. 
          503, 506; 1969).  

          Public Counsel Law Center opposes the bill and states, "There 
          are already numerous offense categories under which students can 
          be suspended.  It is of great significance not to add to this 
          list of suspension grounds or make stylized specifications of 
          existing offenses, especially since there is no evidence that 
          suspension results in improved behavior.

          "Rather, experts in the field agree that a punitive disciplinary 
          system and other such policies serve no educational goals:  they 
          are ineffective at reducing student misbehavior, do not make 
          schools safer, and fail to improve academic achievement.  
          Instead of reducing the likelihood of disruption, school 
          suspension in general appears to predict higher future rates of 
          misbehavior and suspension among those students who are 
          suspended."            

          There are several bills introduced this year that propose 
          alternative disciplinary measures.  With the exception of one 
          bill regarding suspension due to disruption of school activities 
          or willful defiance of school officials, the pending bills 
          propose alternative disciplinary measures that will apply to all 
          acts that could lead to suspensions.  If this bill and those 
          bills are signed into law, the alternative disciplinary measures 
          will apply to the provisions in this bill.  


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087 



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