It will soon be illegal for a student to bully a teacher online in North Carolina, under an expansion of the state’s cyber bullying law that goes into effect Dec. 1 and may be the first of its kind in the country.

The School Violence Prevention Act of 2012 will make it a misdemeanor for students to post something online “with the intent to intimidate or torment a school employee.” It builds on a similar law passed in 2009 that criminalized online bullying of a student or a student’s parent or guardian. Legislators say the law is necessary to keep up with the rise of students on social media.

“On the Internet, if it’s in print, a lot of times people accept it as the truth,” said the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Republican from Union County. “Certainly if you put something in print that could damage the reputation and character of a teacher then there should be some sort of penalty.”

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