Anti-bullying legislation has been passed in a number or states and has been instituted in schools to prevent bullying of students. Should these laws be extended outside of school premises and provide protection from bullying through the internet and social media?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Protection from bullying should not only be instituted in schools but it should extend beyond school grounds as well as into internet and social media occurrences (cyberbullying). Far too many young people and others have been repeatedly bullied in and outside of school and through the internet, which has caused family tragedies and other repercussions. Many students have committed suicide to escape the taunts of bullies.   

Anti-bullying legislation at the state level is one answer to the problem and should include administering disciplinary actions against bullies. Any bullying incidents would be reported, investigated and recorded whether it occurs on school grounds, outside of a school or through the internet.

Other actions should be taken at the local school district level. Any health related class or home room period sessions should include identification of what bullying is and how it can be handled and disciplined within and outside of the classroom. Students need to be made aware of the consequences of bullying other students on any level, even from behind a computer or text screen.

Actual bullying scenarios need to be presented to students in a number of situations so they can actually see and hear the kinds of behaviors that are inappropriate.  Role playing as well as videos and other visual means need to be displayed so students understand the effects of bullying and the repercussions of badgering and harassing others. Teachers need to be trained to watch for suicidal tendencies as well learn bullying intervention strategies.

Students who are being bullied or have been bullied also need to learn coping and defensive, “stand your ground” approaches to stave off bullies. Identification of bullying needs to be swift and discipline immediately administered. Students identified as bullies on a consistent basis need to participate in behavioral programs to overcome their behaviors, and if they don’t adhere to the program, discipline and rules, they need to be expelled from the school system.

Without clear cut rules against bullying, students that engage in bullying will continue to use these behaviors to harass, badger and destroy others in their attempts to pump themselves up as stronger, forceful and more manipulative-all at the expense of innocent students and others.  These kinds of behaviors cannot be tolerated and must be banished from schools and beyond.

Programs whether at the school or public health level need to be available for victims of bullying. Bullying can be dispelled if both state legislatures and local school districts institute the necessary preventative programs to both discipline and treat bullying for the menace that it is. No student should be subject to bullying through a school environment, and families need to demand that their schools remain places of learning and individual growth rather than atmospheres of destructive behaviors that drive ordinary students to give up on life and learning.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Bullying has always been with us. There has always been the urge for the larger and stronger to impose their will on the smaller and weaker.  It’s part of natural selection, in a way.  Those smaller and weaker fellows who survive the gauntlet of school bullying come out the other side stronger, more resilient and more ready to handle the slings and arrows of the world at large, which are FAR more menacing and damaging than any wedgie or theft of lunch money could ever be.

However, in the past a kid could escape bullies by running away or finding an adult to stop the torture.  A harsh word from a grownup or a fleet set of feet could put you out of reach of the neighborhood menace.  Today, with social networks infiltrating every segment of our society and too many parents who don’t understand (or choose not to learn) how the system works, the bullies’ reach has become a lot longer. Instead of stealing your lunch money, they can poison your image online, drive away friends from all around the world and, for older people, ruin credit ratings and stain employment histories.

In some cases, online bullying has crossed the line into extortion and blackmail, with harassers threatening to circulate real or created embarrassing photos, writings and audio files.  This is damage that goes far beyond a black eye or bruised ribcage, and measure should be enacted to severely punish those who perpetrate it.

I wouldn’t be against a framework of “assault” charges specifically relating to online attacks. Just as with the legal distinction between misdemeanor and felony assault, draw some distinct lines to define what is and is not a punishable offense, and the magnitude thereof.  Once a few dozen online trolls have had their cords cut and been put in the general population of a prison, where they’ll be introduced to some brand new friends who won’t care how fast they are behind a keyboard, the problem will abate.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Our nation was founded on the right to say whatever one wants to say, provided it doesn’t cause physical harm to anyone else or is not libelous. But a child who tells another child “I don’t like you,” or “You’re ugly,” or “You’re stupid,” must be given the same right to free speech as any adult, even if they express those thoughts through social media.

Adults have the right to use social media and the internet to proclaim Hillary Clinton to be a liar or Donald Trump to be a racist, sexist, psychopath with a hideous hairdo. How can we justify this double standard for adults and children? Do we expect our children to grow up and flip a switch, so they instantly become immune to being insulted by those who don’t like them for any reason?

Laws should not be extended, refined, or be made more specific or address or benefit one group above another. We are a nation of laws, but to be effective and enforceable those laws must contain no hint of social engineering or behavior modification other than respecting all individuals’ rights to be free from physical danger or the loss of freedom or individual rights without due process.

Unfortunately, policing the internet has so far been proven to be nearly impossible due to the right to anonymity that most online media allow. The cost to continuously monitor all social media would be astronomical and render any anti-bullying laws pertaining to cyberspace unenforceable. Even if we could effectively enforce these laws, do we really want to create yet another class of juvenile criminals who might end up in a similar situation to the millions of non-violent drug offenders whose punishments far exceeded the severity of their crimes?

As with laws against gambling, prostitution, drinking alcohol, using drugs, or any other vice people may have, legislating against bullying is another attempt to legislate morality. It has never worked in the past, and extending anti-bullying laws to cover cyberspace will do nothing to eradicate bullying from society in the future.

 

 

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