In order to prevent bullying, proposed bill number 304 establishes civil liability for the parents of a bully. Presumably designed to combat bullying by giving the victim a legal remedy, the law could also force parents to keep a more careful watch over their child’s conduct.
The proposed law provides that if both the bully and victim are children, the parents of the bully may be liable. The bully’s parents (or guardian) would be liable for all actual damages, including mental anguish, exemplary damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
What is “bullying”?
The proposed bill includes written, oral, and electronic communication in the definition of “bullying”. By including electronic communication in the definition, the proposed law would provide a remedy even if the bullying is solely online or by electronic communication.
Generally, the victim must show that the bully’s communication meets certain requirements. In order to prevail in a lawsuit against the bully (or the bully’s parents) the victim must show that the bully’s communication was: (1) extreme and outrageous; (2) intentional and with malice; and (3) caused the victim to suffer severe emotional distress.
However, the proposed law identifies certain communication that is excluded from these requirements. If the communication urges the victim to commit or attempt suicide, threatens to release an indecent photograph of the victim, or threatens to harm the victim or victim’s family, the bully can be held liable. This means that, in order to establish liability against the bully, the victim would only need to show that the bully made the statements.
Obviously, this proposed bill would provide more protection for the victims of bullying. In order to prevent bullying, the law establishes civil liability for the parents of the bully.
Would you like to see proposed bill number 304 become a Texas Law? Do you think the bill goes too far? Comment below to give us your thoughts.