An Ohio House of Representatives bill that recently gained Senate approval would address cyber-bullying if it becomes law.

An Ohio House of Representatives bill that recently gained Senate approval would address cyber-bullying if it becomes law.

House Bill 116, passed in the Ohio Senate on Jan. 18, would cover bullying done by cellphone, computer and other types of electronic communication devices.

If the bill becomes law, the South-Western City School District would have to add language to its existing anti-bullying policy that specifically speaks to cyber-bullying, said Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications and community relations. The school board would have to approve any policy changes.

The bill also would require school districts to educate students on the district's harassment policy and send policy information annually to a student's parent or guardian. The bill would emphasize the seriousness of electronic bullying.

It would require punishment for those who make false accusations and would allow anonymous reporting of harassment. It also would cover bullying on school buses.

SWCS' policy covering harassment, intimidation and bullying originally was approved in April of 2008, and was last revised in March. It states, "harassment, intimidation or bullying is prohibited while on school property, on school transportation, and at school-sponsored events."

It defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as "any intentional written, verbal, or physical act that a student exhibits toward another particular student more than once, that causes mental or physical harm, and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student." It also covers violence within a dating relationship.

"It's fairly comprehensive," Nekoloff said. All buildings routinely practice character education to help students foster positive behavior, and the district provides yearly trainings for administrators and staff, she said.

The policy requires the district to post the confirmed number of harassment, intimidation and bullying incidents for each semester, or roughly 18 weeks of school, on its website. The report issued Jan. 14, 2011 included seven incidents of bullying. The June 30 report included three incidents.

Norton Middle School on Dec. 12 offered a cyber bullying workshop to the general public in cooperation with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Nekoloff said.

The district would address any student issues "affecting the school day and the educational process," she said.