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SJHS Hosts David's Law Discussion

Smithville Junior High is serious about keeping school safe for students, and for Bullying Prevention Month, invited Maurine Molak to speak about her son’s experience with cyberbullying, his subsequent suicide, and the actions she’s taken since to prevent this from happening to any other child.
 
With their San Antonio school and police unable to stop the social media attacks, Mrs. Molak with the newly-founded David’s Legacy Foundation worked to change the Texas Education Code to include cyberbullying, tighten laws for increased penalties and to ensure that students were able to report incidences anonymously. The law went into effect in September.
 
The law also requires schools to inform parents of any incidences, whether as the victim or aggressor, within three days. Ms. Molak believes informing parents will stop most bullying.
 
Smithville Junior High is taking it a step further, making it possible for anyone to report anonymously, and including foundation information in their No Place For Hate program, started two years ago as a program of inclusivity.
 
Mrs. Molak gave practical advice for parents.
 
• Tell students that nothing ever really goes away on the internet. Even SnapChat can be accessed by police.
• Teach them that there are consequences to words and photos posted online. A Little League team lost the right to play in the World Series after posting a negative photo.
• Teach them to have each other’s back.
• Explain the difference between teasing, which is back and forth joking between friends, and taunting, which is one-way insulting or ridiculing.
• Let your child know that they can talk to you if they are bullied or see bullying.
• Teach them real world empathy and ask “how would this make you feel?”
• Be aware of your own posts and be a good example for your student. They are watching and learning from you.

“We’re having conversations with kids way earlier than we thought we’d have to,” said Mrs. Molak, stressing the importance of age-appropriate talks.
 
SJHS Principal Dr. Logan is incorporating this into their No Place For Hate program with Counselor Mrs. Campbell instructing.
 
Students will also have the opportunity to take a cell phone pledge “I promise to never use my device as a weapon” with accompanying reminder stickers to put on the back of their phone.

Students will be creating and voting on the best video that promotes inclusivity and positive cell phone use in their EPIC class.
 
Smithville Police Department has also been invited to talk to the students during their Social Studies class.
David’s Legacy Foundation has informational materials, a link to a suicide prevention hotline, legal help and specifics on changes brought about by David’s Law. More information can be found at www.davidslegacy.org
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