David’s Legacy Foundation Working with Texas Lawmakers to Further Combat Bullying
(Austin) — Pursuing its mission to protect youth from the harmful effects of bullying, the David’s Legacy Foundation is working with Texas State Senator José Menéndez (District 26) and State Representative Steve Allison (District 121) on additional legislation to enhance David’s Law.
“When David’s Law passed in last legislative session, we knew we might have to come back and enhance it through additional legislation in future sessions,” said Maurine Molak, David Molak’s mother and co-founder of David’s Legacy Foundation. “We are grateful for the continued partnership with Senator Jose Menendez who authored David’s Law last session and our new partnership with District 121 Representative Steve Allison. It is our hope that the 86th legislature will pass these bills into law so that we can further protect our young people.”
Bills filed by Senator Menéndez (SB 885, 1178 and 1390) and Representative Allison (HB 2018, 2642, 3411, 3429) would allow school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to report the number of bullying and cyberbullying incidents through the Public Education Information Management System. There is no method of tracking or measuring this data currently.
If signed into law, the bills will also strengthen suicide prevention and substance abuse prevention programs in schools and require schools to incorporate digital citizenship instruction into the curriculum.
“After filing David’s Law last session, we continue to partner with the Molak family and the David’s Legacy Foundation,” said Senator Menéndez. “Maurine and the entire Molak family’s tireless efforts to protect our children has led us to file several bills to extend the impact of our efforts against cyberbullying.”
“As a parent and grandparent, the unimaginable loss of a child is heartbreaking, particularly when it comes at the hands of something as preventable and vicious as cyber-bullying,” Rep. Allison said. “Texas took a strong step last session to protect our children from cyberbullying, and I’m proud to work with the Molak family this session to strengthen those protections so no Texas child has to deal with this despicable practice.”
Signed in to law in 2017, David’s Law is named in honor of 16-year-old David Molak, who tragically took his own life after extensive cyber-assisted bullying in January of 2016. The current law requires school districts to include cyberbullying in their district policies and to notify a child’s parents if he or she is a victim or an alleged aggressor of bullying. David’s Law also allows schools to combat and prevent cyberbullying by investigating off campus cyber-assisted bullying, and provides for schools to collaborate with law enforcement when serious or life-threatening cyberbullying situations arise.
David Bartlett Molak, aged 16, passed away on Monday, January 4, 2016 in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. David had recently achieved the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout with Troop 809. Among David’s passions were hunting, fishing, and playing video games with his older brothers, Cliff and Chris. He was extremely knowledgeable about professional football and could lead any fantasy association to success. David never passed up on an opportunity for an outdoor adventure or a chance to dominate his family in Monopoly. His infectious smile and sharp wit entertained his peers to the dismay of his teachers, but all in good fun.
A Note from David’s Family
Our beloved son and brother took his own life on January 4, 2016 at the age of 16. In the last few months before his death, our joyful David with a huge smile and an even bigger heart was overwhelmed with hopelessness after being continuously harassed, humiliated and threatened by a group of students through text messages and social media. As we have learned, cyberbullying is a form of abuse that is non-stop and can invade all areas of life. Experts tell us that cyberbullying can lead to depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and, as we know, suicide.
We hope to honor David’s legacy by doing all that we can to prevent this from happening to another family. No child should have to face this kind of harassment and no family should have to endure the pain of losing a precious child in response. We believe that addressing this issue will require action and a change of heart from today’s youth. We are challenging parents and schools to take an active role in supervising and monitoring children for signs of involvement as an aggressor, victim or bystander of cyberbullying. Legislative support is also a necessary component in successfully addressing this issue.
We want to thank each supporter of the David’s Legacy Foundation and hope to see a positive change in the online behavior of today’s youth through the efforts of this organization.
David’s Legacy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ending cyber-assisted bullying by educating communities about the harmful effects of cyber abuse, providing support for bullying victims, promoting kindness, and supporting legislation that prohibits the cyberbullying of minors. For more information, visit www.davidslegacy.org and www.facebook.com/davidslegacyfoundation .