DENTON, NC -- A new North Carolina law goes into effect December 1st and is aimed at protecting school staff from cyber bullying by students.
The School Violence Prevention Act of 2012 makes it a class two misdemeanor for students to harass or torture school staffers online.
This includes but is not limited to making false accusations or statements via social media (like Facebook and Twitter), creating fake profiles representing real people, sending derogatory emails, and hacking into social media and email accounts used by school staff.
State Senator Stan Bingham co-sponsored the law and says officials are serious about bullying enforcement.
"If it's just a rule, a school rule, it won't have any consequences," Bingham said. "They'll thumb their nose at it."
Bingham does not take lightly the idea of giving a kid a criminal record, but noted the law contains certain diversionary methods to make a student realize that bullying is dangerous without ruining his or her future.
Bingham says the impetus for the law was the danger of a teacher or administrator's reputation being destroyed by an unfounded accusation.
"People will believe the worst," Bingham said.
He cited the case of an ROTC instructor who "went through hell and back" after a female student accused him of touching her in an online forum. According to Bingham, the accuser later recanted saying she was "making it up," but the damage was already done to the instructor's reputation.
Bingham says it's cases like that the law seeks to prevent.