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States Seek Laws to Curb Online Bullying 251

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the let's-all-take-off-our-left-shoe dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that many states are considering laws to help crack down on "cyberbullying". "Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it will be difficult to draft a cyberbullying law that doesn't infringe on free-speech rights. 'The fact that two teenagers say nasty things about each other is a part of growing up,' he said. 'How much authority does a school have to monitor, regulate and punish activities occurring inside a student's home?' In Arkansas, the state Senate this month passed a bill calling on school districts to set up policies to address cyberbullying only after it was amended to settle concerns about students' free-speech rights."
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States Seek Laws to Curb Online Bullying

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  • Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chacham (981) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:05PM (#18097554) Homepage Journal
    Dupe [slashdot.org].

    Reagan said it of government, i say it of schools. Replace the "government" with "school" and "economic" with "scholastic" from here [reaganfoundation.org].

    The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we've had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

    In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
    • Post a story about some teacher demanding that some kid take down his personal, non-school website calling the teacher a poopy-head and the /. comments will be against the teacher, citing "free speech".

      Post a story about some teacher demanding that some kid take down his personal, non-school website calling some kid a poopy-head and the /. comments will be for the teacher, citing "I was bullied when I was a kid".

      Either the school does control the lives of the kids outside of school or it does not.

      The author
      • Um... No? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:17PM (#18097752) Homepage Journal

        At least, I hope not. Free speech is something that we shouldn't have a double standard about.

        I admit it—I was bullied when I was a kid. And yet, I still don't believe that government should step in to force kids (or anyone, for that matter) to take down their personal, non-school web sites.

        I'm not sure why you're assuming that /.'ers will in general put overprotectionism over free speech. I'd guess the exact opposite.

        • I'm not sure why you're assuming that /.'ers will in general put overprotectionism over free speech. I'd guess the exact opposite.

          Read the comments on the dupe.

          Free speech is something that we shouldn't have a double standard about.

          I agree with that. But there is also a tendency for people to look to "authority" for "protection" from "threats".

          Even when that authority should NOT have any authority over the perceived "threat". Which is why I referenced the "bullying".

          Once people start expecting/demanding tha

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gfxguy (98788)
          But we already have a different set of standards for children, and not only is it accepted, it's exactly the way it should be.

          We personal freedoms comes personal responsibility. Children under 18 are normally (except in extreme cases) not held responsible for their actions. If my son breaks my neighbors window, I'm responsible - even if I subsequently make my son work it off.

          Likewise, if my son libels or slanders someone, they'll come to me looking for restitution.

          [disclaimer: can't = it's not legal to do
          • by nebaz (453974)
            Kid's can't drive. They can't vote. They can't buy or consume alcohol. They can't go to R rated movies. They can't buy cigarettes. Do I need to go on?

            Yet they can still be tried as adults for certain crimes.

            We personal freedoms comes personal responsibility.

            Yet it seems like the only time kids are treated as adults are as you put it in extreme cases

            This seems wrong.

            I agree with the rest of your post though.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kijori (897770)
          The supreme court ruled 37 years ago that bullying is not protected speech, in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District: "conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason - whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior - materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech."
      • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:12PM (#18098628)
        The authority of the school should end where the school grounds end.

        Do something about bullying on campus first before claiming any authority off campus. Something other than Zero Tolerance which punishes the victims disproportionally because the perpetrators know how not to get caught (or is on the sports team).

        And stop putting one Good Kid between two troublemakers just because you can't police your own classroom.

        And where the hell does a public school get the authority to force the whole student bodychool to attend a funeral in the gym during school hours for one of those two troublemakers who died playing chicken against the other one! Where every student had to walk past the damn open casket! And then the first students through decided to hug the parents, so everyone after them felt they had to too! The school even posted teachers at the exits so no one would leave and never told anyone that attendance was voluntary!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by logicnazi (169418)
          I certainly have sentiments in this direction. However, I'm not sure I see the huge problem with the funeral. It was social pressure that compelled you not to ask if you could leave. No teacher threatened you with discipline if you didn't hug the parent, you could have just walked up and looked and left.

          Also one has to remember that there is a trade off between a school's power over it's children and it's ability to stop bullying. The problem with zero tolerance is it's inflexibility requiring teachers
  • by Noonian Soong (1016626) * <soong@@@member...fsf...org> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:05PM (#18097562)
    Laws are not the key to solving social problems - education is. While I would say that in some cases a law may change the public perception of a situation and may even change something, with teenagers this will most likely not work. It may even have the opposite effect than intended - it might make bullying "cooler" because you're breaking a law.

    Another question is what should happen to the people breaking that law? Do we want to have teenagers to pay fines for it or do we let them do social work somewhere? Will that have the intended effect on them?

    Like the article stated, teachers need to talk to their students and the parents need to participate in this as well. Nobody should feel good by bullying someone else and this cannot be achieved by passing a law.
    • by Chacham (981) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:08PM (#18097606) Homepage Journal
      teachers need to talk to their students and the parents need to participate in this as well.

      Absolutely not! That is completely backwards!

      Parents need to talk to their students and the teachers to reinforce this as well.

      • by Touvan (868256) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:01PM (#18098452) Homepage

        As a parent I disagree with your statement, on it's face. Sure, it's my responsibility to teach my children to do the right thing, and I surely do that to the best of my ability.

        Still, it remains fact that not all kids have parents that are going to teach vital life skills, like how to organize, study, and get along with others. It remains fact that the rest of us, and our children still have to deal with these less than prepared people, and their children. And it remains fact, that schools can and should do something about it.

        We just need the political and social will to make policies that teach this stuff. There are plenty of books on the subject, some even demonstrating what can be done by both teachers and parents, such as "They Don't Like Me: Lessons on Bullying and Teasing from a Preschool Classroom" [amazon.com].

        In an ideal world, parents would all do the right thing. In reality, many of them are not prepared for the task, and could use a little help. For the sake of the rest of us, and for their sake, I think we should address that reality.

        • by logicnazi (169418)
          Yes, and what they need to do is to punish ANY and ALL bullying severely whether they observed the incident or not.

          Trying to keep the bullied kid apart from the bullies (pulling him from a class as they did with me) or telling him just to ignore the bullies doesn't cut it. Bullying may happen when the teacher isn't looking but they damn well know it is going on and need to do something about it.

          It is the parents that are the problem. If the teacher had a free hand to punish when they knew bullying was goi
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by soft_guy (534437)
        Every morning I tell my kid: "Come home with at least three other kids' lunch money or don't come home at all. And don't forget to pick up some booze and smokes for your old man!"
    • Education probably won't do much either. Who does not know that bullying is bad?

      Why should schools be doing this? What is wrong with the parents?

      Schools started off being there for education, then sport and now they're also day care -- a place to dump the kids so that the parents can go to work. Should they also be the moral guardians too? If this trend continues, the schools/government will own your kids and allow you to borrow them for a few hours on weekends.

    • It's illegal to walk up to someone and verbally abuse them, make harassing telephone calls, write them threatening letters, etc.

      How does bullying someone via e-mail or IM make the situation any different? WTF is the point in making yet another law when we already HAVE applicable laws against harassment and intimidation?
  • by Hubbell (850646) <brianhubbellii&live,com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:08PM (#18097614)
    The answer isn't to shield kids from bullying, it's to teach them how to deal with it. Someone talks shit, get up in their face and make them back it up or back the fuck off. Someone shoves you, you deck them. I tried the ignore them stuff until I was a Junior in High School, at which point I started forcing kids to put up or shut up. Someone started running their mouth? Got right in their face less than a foot away and told them, either hit me or shut the fuck up, cause talkin shit is for pussies. Someone shoved me? They got thrown against a locker and told if they wanna get physical, they better be ready to fight. Wanna know what happened once I started doing that? Wouldn't ya know it, they stopped that shit, hell some of them even became good friends of mine after a while. Acting like a little bitch and running for someone else to protect you or shield you from the evils of the world isn't productive, it's how things like Columbine happen. Back in the day there weren't school shootings cause kids weren't taught to be little girls and cry everytime someone was mean, they were taught to stand up for themselves.
    • by ArcherB (796902) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:15PM (#18097724) Journal
      Someone talks shit, get up in their face and make them back it up or back the fuck off.

      They may be kinda hard for the crippled kid who receives shit every day because he has to use a walker.

    • by GiovanniZero (1006365) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:16PM (#18097726) Homepage Journal
      Oh how I wish it could be like that. When I was in high school, if someone walked up to me that I had never seen before and punched me in the face I would be suspended. That was the rule. That is what is so stupid about our system.

      Laws leave room for self defense where schools do not. I was once jumped by 5 kids and somehow I was the one that got in trouble, oh yeah probably because I fought back.

      If our system keeps on breeding people like this we're just going to have more columbines and more extreme violence. A couple kids getting in a fight might be bad but it's probably not as bad as letting them build up whatever hate they have before exploding.

      • by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:48PM (#18098204)
        We were fighting in school long before Columbine. There's been fighting in schools ever since there's been schools.

        I've made it clear to my kids that they cannot start a fight. However, regardless of school policy, if they fight back they have my support 100%. There are long term effects to the psyche by learning not to stand up for yourself and backing down to every threat.

        I've wailed on guys a lot bigger than me for bullying, and even when I lost they stopped bullying me because they knew I'd fight back.

        The best defense for verbal abuse is eye-rolling and walking away. That pisses people off a lot more than trying to come back with some snarky retort and failing, or being a big baby about it and crying to the teacher (which makes things worse 100% of the time).
    • by Marko DeBeeste (761376) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:17PM (#18097750)
      They take out a knife, you take out a gun.

      They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.

      That's the Chicago way.

    • by m0rph3us0 (549631)
      Amen to that.

      I was bullied in school until I fractured someone's nose in front of their friends.

      All of a sudden no one wanted to make fun of me anymore.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        Exactly. I was picked on a lot until I wigged out a couple times. At least they held me back from the second kid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Interesting . . ..

      I have the opposite set of personal experience and memories.

      My parents were very careful to teach me that physical threats, emotional responses, and physical replies to such represent animalistic behavior. Because they worked as hard as they did to reinforce this concept in me, when I was in school and some punk came up and tried to bully me, I treated him like a barking dog, because that is EXACTLY how much significance he had in my mind.

      I walked away. I didn't run. I didn't find someo
    • You might think the 'fight back' response is appropriate for everyone, but bullying is definitely not the same for girls. You can act all tough about how you forced your bullies to man-up, but the reality is many kids are not in a position to do that, and they aren't encouraged by their peers or parents to respond that way. Many don't have the self-esteem, strength, and courage to stand up to someone. Especially when that someone is a group of bullies.

      I never got bullied around as a kid because I, like y
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)
      Back in the day there weren't school shootings cause kids weren't taught to be little girls and cry everytime someone was mean, they were taught to stand up for themselves.

      Actually, I think it was more or less that people born before 1970 were expected to respect authority as children.

      Although children often disagreed, authority had the whereabouts to force them to comply most of the time usually through say... Corporal punishment regardless of age.

      Since I didn't live in that period I am not sure, but I sup
      • by planetmn (724378)
        Of course those are those scenarios we see in popular media in which the child is bullied by a popular person who the school authorities are in league with.

        If that is true then there is an underlying problem with society that we can't fix with my method or your method but rather actually passing laws that correct schools by firing school officials who do not correct bullying rather than this stupid cyber laws that are impossible to enforce against students.


        Show me one example. Honestly, I'd like to s
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          You are in a state of denial. In Columbine, it was well known that the shooters had been bullied for a very long time before the shootings. Not a month after the incident, I watch a news story about a student being expelled for having a gun. The reporter was interviewing a fellow student, and right on national television, the student stated that several members of the football team had been threatening to beat up the gun carrying student, and that the gun a carrying student had said he would shoot anyone
    • Zero Tolerance (Score:2, Interesting)

      Welcome to Zero Tolerance, where even if you're defending yourself you will get into (serious) trouble for a violent encounter ...

      The fact is whether you realize it or not you will be dealing with bullies for the rest of your life; they may be a co-worker, your boss or even a relative. Rarely (as an adult) is a confrontation an appropriate way to deal with bullies so why should you start to teach your child to deal with it that way; imagine your child being "bullied" by their boss and responding with "Hey b
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        This isn't just wrong, it is horribly wrong.

        You don't always have the luxury of pretending you
        are in some fantasyland created by Gene Roddenberry.
        It may not just be yourself at risk but you may also
        be responsible for someone else and you need to be
        prepared to meet that responsibility.
        • So I take it when your boss says "Mmmm Yeah, with all the Layoffs we're going to need you to work this weekend to prevent further downsizing" you punch them for attempting to intimidate you?

          The fact is that there are appropriate reactions to every encounter, and rarely is the appropriate reaction to use violence (or intimidation) to get your way. Whether you like it or not Zero Tolerance exists because school's are trying to reduce the number of children who are hurt (or killed) because of violent encounter
    • by klang (27062)
      But running for mommy (your lawyer) prepares you for the American society!
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      "I realize you are a big jock on the football team, Letterman, and enjoyed kicking sand in my face at the beach this summer, Also that I am a big eared nerd with taped glasses and a pen protector in pocket, but if you don't do what I say My Space will display those compromising pictures of the party at Coach's house that you THOUGHT you had erased from your phone. Oh and don't worry, I PROMISE Becky-Sue will enjoy her date with me.."
    • by phorm (591458)
      Which works great when you're not about half the size of the person in question, or facing groups of 5-7 people. In those situations you're just going to get your ass kicked.

      Of course, sometimes there's going to be an asskicking either way, so sometimes in those cases it's best to get your licks in and hope you can knock a few of them down before they can all shitkick you, or just prove to them that you're too psycho to f*** around with.

      (yes, even when they're small little buggers, nobody messed with th
    • by kabocox (199019)
      Back in the day there weren't school shootings cause kids weren't taught to be little girls and cry everytime someone was mean, they were taught to stand up for themselves.

      I'm looking forward to the day that the bullies and folks like you are both held to adult criminal standards while in school and kids are taught to report and press charges on any bullies so we'd have these bullies all jailed. Verbal and physical assualt is wrong. It doesn't matter if you are 2, 6, 12, 18, 25, or 35. It is wrong and you s
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        You know, you do get to defend yourself in this society (except mebbe in California) even if you are an adult. The Police are not bodyguards and they can't be counted on to babysit everyone. Every once and awhile you find yourself on your own facing off against people who have no sense of scruples or consequences. Attempting to ignore that fact is simply dellusional.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OldeTimeGeek (725417)
      And so dispute resolution by violence is perpetuated to another generation...

      Maybe things are different now than they were when I was a kid. I wasn't terribly interested in advancing my standing within the group by picking on someone else and the few times I got hassled, I just walked away. Yes, I got called a chicken, but so what? I was interested in neither their opinion nor the macho BS game that they wanted to play. Eventually people learn that they can't get under your skin enough to make you react and

    • by soft_guy (534437)
      At my school you would have been shot.
    • You're so badass, I just peed myself in fear.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:12PM (#18097674) Homepage

    much authority does a school have to monitor, regulate and punish activities occurring inside a student's home


    They shouldn't have any authority as to what goes on inside a student's home. In fact, they shouldn't have any authority what goes on outside of their campus.

    Home? That should be the parents domain. Now, if the parents go and actually ask the school for help, well that's different...same thing goes with the student, if he asks for the school's help then they should help.

    Unless they are asked for their assistance, school's should have ZERO input on what goes on OUTSIDE of their campus. The only time I would disagree with that is if something is happening, the parents are unaware, and the child wont tell them.

    • They shouldn't have any authority as to what goes on inside a student's home. In fact, they shouldn't have any authority what goes on outside of their campus.

      Oh, but they do, at least in the US.

      You can be visited by a truancy officer if your kid isn't at school, or is observed outside of school during school hours. Your child can be taken into state custody by CPS if they think something "isn't right". Families are often harassed for home schooling their children. Believe me, America's public school syst

      • by Pojut (1027544)
        Oh I know that they already do (unfortunately)...I'm simply saying that they shouldn't be able to.
    • They shouldn't have any authority as to what goes on inside a student's home. In fact, they shouldn't have any authority what goes on outside of their campus.
      ...
      Unless they are asked for their assistance, school's should have ZERO input on what goes on OUTSIDE of their campus.

      http://www.google.com/search?q=disrupt+school+envi ronment [google.com]

      Student Press Law Center [splc.org]
      "Schools always had the ability to regulate speech and actions that disrupt the educational environment," [sayeth the Principle of a highschool]

      Everyone

      • by Pojut (1027544)
        How does some fat lonely bully making fun of a kid over AIM prevent the child from getting an education?

        Now, if he threatens to beat him up at school tomorrow, then the school should intervene because ***gasp*** it's at school.

        You calling me a bitch on the phone doesn't stop me from going to trig class.
      • by inviolet (797804)

        Everyone has a right to an education.

        By 'right' do you mean "provided free of charge, if necessary"? If so, by what method are victims selected to fund the exercise of this right?

    • by Alchemar (720449)
      Why should they have authority as to what goes on INSIDE the campus. I personally have a problem with the fact that the school district makes, judges, and enforces their own rules, and claim that the children are not protected by the Bill of Rights until they are 18, and if all that fails tell you it is either policy, or "it's for the children" (I have been told by school employees that protecting the children is grounds to violate any constitutional rights) I know that the schools need to have some autho
  • Ugh (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:12PM (#18097678) Homepage Journal
    I just watched something on TV about Cyber-bullying. This obese girl demonstrated how she was constantly picked on over the internet. The result? She was getting floods of IM's from about 3 people saying nasty things. She begins crying like her life is over. Apparently, right clicking on their screenname and click "block this user" is too dificult a solution :|
    • If there were a +Sad modifier, I'd use it on your post. I understand what you're saying -- that blocking offensive communication on the Internet is pretty easy -- but I think you're discounting the effect of the harassment. If you've ever received a harassing phone call, you know what I mean; you can hang up easy enough, set a custom ringer to silent, but it's still kind of unnerving.

      Does this mean there should be regulations? Eh. I don't think that's the logical conclusion. It just made me kind of sad to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wildclaw (15718)
      Coming from the typical "stand up for yourself", "hit them back", "ignore them" person. And it looks like you got a few people who agree with you. Yes, it is possible to block them, but they could switch screen names, and more than anything else you fail to see the real problem.

      People want other people to acknowledge and like them.

      That one sentence describes what bullying is all about. Here is a basic guide to bullying (I am using male descriptors for the victim):

      1) Find a person that don't have many friend
  • Damn ACLU (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:12PM (#18097682) Journal
    While I think this law is stupid as well, it is because of enforcement reasons, not free speech.

    Give me a friggin break! Since when is bullying protected under free speech rights? What the hell is NOT protected under free speech? Can I smoke at work as a protest against the proletariat? Can I smack around some ACLU lawyers to show my displeasure with NAMBLA? Would the ACLU protect my right to do so? Could 9-11 be considered "Protest Terrorism"?

    I love the Bill of Rights more than the next guy, but the ACLU needs to get a friggin grip!

    • Re:Damn ACLU (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:17PM (#18097748) Homepage Journal
      None of the activities you mention are speech. Posting nasty messages about someone online clearly is speech. Don't tell me you can't see the difference.
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        None of the activities you mention are speech. Posting nasty messages about someone online clearly is speech. Don't tell me you can't see the difference.

        Bullying can include threats, slander and/or attacks. For example, years ago on an old dialup BBS, someone sent me an ASCII bomb that hosed my computer so bad it had to be restarted. While I saw it as a learning experience and laughed it off, others may not be so thick skinned. Dialup BBS's are gone, but I understand modern equivalents can be used for ev
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bacon Bits (926911)
      Yeah, the key here is that the "bullying" the law is trying to address in this case is the same as "verbal harassment" and, in extreme cases, "verbal assault". Those are the definitions that should probably be used, and I'm not convinced that a new law should be created to deal with a special case of them over the Internet.

      Of course, if those terms aren't defined or aren't illegal, then I'd agree with Mr. Brown that it would be difficult to define without infringing on first amendment rights. If you read
    • Unlike some forms of traditional bullying, cyberbullying has to be speech because you can't physically hit someone over the internet. The speech of a bully saying harmful things is just as protected as my ability to make this post. Similarly, the speech of groups like the KKK or neo-nazis to promote their agendas is similarly protected. It doesn't matter if that speech is harmful to others, it is still protected.

      Perhaps you could explain why you think this is not a free speech issue?
    • Re:Damn ACLU (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hamburger lady (218108) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:37PM (#18098034)
      CWhat the hell is NOT protected under free speech? Can I smoke at work as a protest against the proletariat?

      smoking isn't speech.

      Can I smack around some ACLU lawyers to show my displeasure with NAMBLA?

      physical assault isn't speech.

      Could 9-11 be considered "Protest Terrorism"?

      blowing up buildings isn't speech.
      • by Bryansix (761547)
        In this case the ACLU is correct. Free speech is more important then getting this law passed. Besides all the government needs to do is enforce libel laws over the Internet. You can say whatever you want as long as it is factual or your opinion but as soon as you spread known lies around about a person you should be sued for damages.

        Also While I agree with the ACLU here I think they are being hypocritical because I can't think of an organization more against free speech. They just classify it as hate spe
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:15PM (#18097716) Journal
    The government cannot regulate morals, at least they *shouldn't*.

    There are laws for slander, libel, and other manner of social discord that allow us to deal with such problems already. The fact that the Internet and computers have added a new dimension to society does not mean that we need new laws. We simply need to revise current laws to include this new dimension.

    That it happens in a school social setting is not new, as was stated, but the lack of training for students as to what constitutes libel, slander, or other actions that could result in litigation or penalties is sad.

    Education is what is needed, not regulation. Less government, not more. Intelligence, not money will go the furthest towards eliminating such problems.

    Yes, I believe that if they break a law on the Internet, it is a civil courts place to punish that person rather than the school's place. No more he said, she said. Lets have them show the judge and let the judge decide if there is anything to punish. Perhaps a special court to streamline such cases, but make it court. Punishment is then meted out in a legally binding way rather than arbitrary decisions of school leaders.

    Punishments for minors is not a bad thing as schools, parks, and other public places need cleaning and looking after. A little community service gives them time to think about what they did.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      That it happens in a school social setting is not new, as was stated, but the lack of training for students as to what constitutes libel, slander, or other actions that could result in litigation or penalties is sad.

      Oh give me a fucking break.

      Students shouldn't be "educated" on how to become even more litigious than we already are. What people should be educated on is how to *personally* deal with the problems they face and how to not take out anger and persecution on others.

      Learning to deal with these pro
      • Well Lawers are the ultimate weapon. You could just have the Kid arrested for Cyber Bulling and he may spend some days in Jail for Juvvy. Then when he gets out he thinks he is now the one tough guy. Or bring him to Cival Court for slander, Have a good lawer prove that this has irrevly effected you and your ability to succeed in the future and he could end up paying you for life. Every time he writes a check or cant buy something nice because he owes you money. Makes him feel small and petty. If he does fa
      • by kabocox (199019)
        That it happens in a school social setting is not new, as was stated, but the lack of training for students as to what constitutes libel, slander, or other actions that could result in litigation or penalties is sad.
        Oh give me a fucking break.
        Students shouldn't be "educated" on how to become even more litigious than we already are. What people should be educated on is how to *personally* deal with the problems they face and how to not take out anger and persecution on others.


        This is why we need life recorde
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        You're right.

        Makes much more sense to arrest him for harrassment, assault or stalking and just make him do time.

        Much more logical.
    • Yes, what I think we really need is less protections for juveniles and/or their parents.

      Kid fucks somebody's reputation over (and it can be very, very bad) with lies... nail 'em for slander.
      Kid sucker-punches somebody and knocks out some teeth, nail 'em for assault

      While kids are perhaps too young to have a firm grip on some of the finer points of law (hell, even most adults would), most of the shit that goes on should be understandable as illegal (and not just "oh, that's bad) by anyone past the fourth
  • Hypocrites (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) *
    If the government want's to stop bullying, they should shut themselves down. It is bad enough that they are such a bully around the world, but at home is unforgivible. The suspension of Habius Corpus, that's bullying. No knock warrants and random searches, that is bullying. Compulsitory education, that's bullying. The IRS, that's bullying. The "war on drugs", that's bullying. All the frivilous tickets they give out, that's bullying. Looser pays lawsuits, that's bullying. And they help a lot of othe
  • ...when it becomes harassment. I think a law that defined cyberbullying as harassment would be much easier to enforce. As to the ACLU's comment, cyberbullying should NOT be a part of 'growing up', at least not to the levels many kids seem to be taking it these days.
  • Bullying is a societal failure. No amount of change of policy will be able to correct it. This is simply another feel-good piece of legislation.
    • by HBI (604924)
      I don't think of it as a failure, it's simply representative of normal human behavior. We are mean creatures by nature.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:24PM (#18097854) Homepage
    No one had sympathy for bullies. They were understood as violent assholes and no judge, jury or parent except maybe their own parents cared if they got tore up at school by their victim. In the 50s when my dad was growing up, he beat the hell out of one such bully and the principal not only didn't even haul him into his office, but instead grabbed the bully, who was busted up and bleeding and pulled him into his office for a lecture before the dread phone call to mom and dad (who gave him a whipping that afternoon for picking fights). The threat of violence works. It is what human beings are conditioned to respect. Bullies frequently get away with it because today they're protected by bureaucrats ranging from school employees to social welfare people to the legal system. You beat one up today, you get expelled and possibly prosecuted. All of the laws against the use of force by students protect the aggressor today, not the victim. School shootings only happen because people refuse to admit that people like bullies only understand the language of violence.

    I've used violence against bullies before, and I know from experience that it works. The more they bully, the more you make them suffer. Eventually, they get the idea and leave you alone. To paraphrase Heinlein, it's as easy as training a puppy.
    • by kabocox (199019)
      The threat of violence works. It is what human beings are conditioned to respect. Bullies frequently get away with it because today they're protected by bureaucrats ranging from school employees to social welfare people to the legal system. You beat one up today, you get expelled and possibly prosecuted. All of the laws against the use of force by students protect the aggressor today, not the victim. School shootings only happen because people refuse to admit that people like bullies only understand the lan
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lightwarrior (73124)
      Violence is the worst way to train a dog. Dogs can't be reasoned with - you can't hit them and explain that you're doing it because they peed on the carpet. They just associate with whatever is going on at that exact moment with why they're getting hurt - be it you coming home and discovering the mess, or any other situation.

      I'm not saying it doesn't "work" - yes, you CAN train a dog through pain. But with a little more patience and a lot more intelligence, you can train a dog with positive reinforcement
  • Dealing with adversity, frustration, rejection and so on is part of the process of growing up and the creation of psychological defense mechanisms.

    By over protecting our children we are, in fact, under-preparing them to deal with an often ignored fact of life: it's HARD.

    But, then again, it will help support the world thriving antidepressant industry...

  • If this isn't a case of a solution looking for a problem (or a politician pandering for votes), I don't know what is. There aren't even laws prohibiting real world bullying, are there? Kids get in fights all the time and here in a large metro area, unless there's a weapon involved, it's usually handled within the school. Are we really such a nation of pansies that we need laws to protect us from being ridiculed on the internet?
  • by Morinaga (857587) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:42PM (#18098122)
    Here in Colorado there are still strict rules against wearing trenchcoats and numerous suspensions, counciling sessions etc... to deal with bullying. All of this is of course the Columbine effect. A thred like this one can't exist for long with out the mention of the tragedy. Bullying is not what drove Harris and Klebold to mass murder, it's a myth that simply will not die. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/09/23/colum bine/print.html [salon.com]

    Bullies are part of growing up. It's part of growing up for the persons being bullied and the bullies themselves. It is not evil behavior that must be erradicated because another Columbine could happen again. It's natural behavior that occurs in all human cultures and many in the animal kingdom as well. Those that are the victims of bullies have great lessons to learn that will serve them well later in life. Those that are bullies also have lessons to learn. I can't imagine anything more destructive that taking kids in their learning years and secluding them from this natural behavior. Sometimes kids need to touch a hot stove to understand cause and effect.
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:44PM (#18098148) Homepage Journal
    Punish ACTUAL bullying, at its source: Poor parenting.

    Cyber-bullying is only a problem because it leads to verbal bullying and that leads to physical bullying. I could not care less about kids calling me names when I was in school. That sort of "bullying" means nothing. What I had a problem with was being pushed, tripped, pinched, punched, and kicked. When one kid assaults another kid, $500 fine to their parents. I guarantee that will solve the problem damn quick.
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      I doubt it. You obviously haven't run into the parents that believe that (a) children should resolve their own problems and (b) their physically agressive child is showing that he is "a man" or is simply showing natural leadership qualities. Fines aren't going to help the parent's attitude in this case.

      More than likely, the $500 fine will result in the parents physically taking it out on the child, who will then have even more motivation to beat on someone else. More secretively, without witnessess.
  • The best defense is self defense, and only used in physical altercations... if you can't fight off a bully using words with words of your own, you probably shouldn't resort to hitting because you're the one instigating the assault in that case.

    Can anyone point me to a real example where a bullying victim became the one punished for standing up for themselves where it was legislated? At the school I went to, both parties got equally busted, so if someone picked a fight with you, you may as well practically
  • Back in high school I had a large gas-powered RC helicopter and a couple estes rockets mounted on pylons. Nobody EVER screwed with me.
  • Online it's easy to avoid people. If people are harrassing you, block them and ignore them. Flag them as Spam if it's email. If they can't get a response from you they will leave you alone. Worst case scenario you change your email address / screen name. It can be a hassle, but if you play it smart they'll get bored and leave you alone.
  • ...in the schoolyard with several of your best mates at your side.

    Geez, no wonder the world's the way it is today. Everybody's running home to mommy instead of learning to deal with it like adults: gang up on the bleeding sod and beat the living crap out of him!

    Bunch of sissies, the lot of ya.
  • I know the place anonymity has on the Internet - but I believe the single greatest source of malfeasance comes from anonymity, both in legitimate forums and in numerous scams. Maybe some rethinking of the way the Internet works is in order. A difficult problem - how to link any particular network transaction (and I'm specifically not thinking of TCP/IP here, because I'm not entirely convinced it can be retooled to represent "packet from Mr. Smith", rather than "packet from device") to an identity.
    By keeping
  • by Technician (215283) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:19PM (#18098746)
    I hope they start with the RIAA. It's just getting out of hand.
  • And I don't mean the paddle either. When my dad was in school, if you so much as talked out of turn in class the teacher would smack you in the head with a dictionary. Pick a fight? Well, the entire school owned and operated rifles (it was the wild west, my dad's old), so no one even gave it a second thought. Not surprisingly, the kids were well-behaved.
  • Makes it Worse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@gmail. ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:40PM (#18099084) Homepage
    This is the most awful idea I've ever heard. The free speech implications are quite troubling and you know that in reality these sort of laws get used preferentially against people with unpopular views. But worse than this is the fact that it won't help any kids out and might make their lives worse.

    I suspect other people on slashdot were bullied as children as well and you know the one thing guaranteed to make it worse is ineffective appeals for help from authorities. If the kids at your school find out you went to the police over some Items things are likely to get much worse. Everything and more than can happen to you online can just happen to you in school.

    Disgustingly our schools can't even (or won't) control real physical teasing and picking on. Why not start with trying to deal with bullying in the context where the school has much greater control and knowledge rather than online? Ohh right, it's because this law is less about making children's lives better as it is about soothing adult consciences. They can pretend the bullying isn't happening if they don't see it but if it's on a web page they feel guilty.

    If you want to fix (mitigate really) the problem of bullying and teasing you need to change some fundamental structural features of teacher/parent incentives. Right now there is strong disincentive for the teachers to really do anything about bullying. Even though the teachers might know who is doing the bullying they rarely have proof and punishing the offenders without it risks great flak from their parents or maybe even a lawsuit. Also once they involve themselves in the situation they create all sorts of problems for themselves (potential lawsuit if things go bad b/c they have shown they knew about the issue). Even with the best intentions in the world teachers, being only human like the rest of us, will ignore or 'not notice' bullying they know is happening but can't see or worse ineffectively impose minor punishments that, like this law, just make the situation worse.

    Not bullying/teasing is like being polite. Any attempt to teach it by legalistic formal rules will just encourage the bad behavior elsewhere. However, just as parents can teach politeness by punishing for sassy tones and other subtle types of impoliteness that violate no legalistic rule bullying could be prevented by punishing the bullies whenever you knew they had done wrong, whether you caught them in the act or not.

    In order to deter bullying teachers need to fear parental complaints less and have a stronger incentive to stop the behavior. Basically we need a change in attitude where teachers are held just for the bullying that happens in their classes as for any punishment they might dish out. If we can't stop the pressure on teachers from outrage parents of punished children maybe we should make teachers legally liable for bullying that happens in their classroom to even things out despite the obvious problems with this idea. Perhaps instead we should remove local control of schools short circuiting the influence of parents on the school and hence teachers?

    Frankly I'm not sure how to change the current incentive balance toward stopping bullies. I just know that something needs to be done and it isn't more ineffective legalistic attempts to clamp down on one aspect of the problem.
  • We already have laws against stalking, bullying and picking fights don't we? Why do we need more that specify this also counts for online. This is going to be just another law just like the CAN-SPAM act which nobody can and will enforce. It will however be enforced against (free/online) speech, journalism and soap-box criticism on the government.
  • Politicians attack those things that they can have zero actual effect upon per maximum soccermommy goodness.

    Next up, a bill to regulate the TIDES.
  • Good. They could start with Steve Ballmer [slashdot.org].

  • Psycho Revenge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by onkelonkel (560274) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @04:04PM (#18100106)
    A few of my friends were the victim of bullying in high school. Mostly verbal and sometimes physical violence. None of us were big enough or strong enough to fight back, and the school didn't do much when they complained. One of the guys decided to fight back in his own twisted way. He waited till school was out and then hacksawed the lock off of $bully's locker. Then he emptied the contents of the locker into some big garbage bags, locked the locker back up with a similar lock and buried the bags in a dumpster a few blocks away.

    The next morning $bully tries a half dozen times but can't unlock his locker. Finally the principal comes with the bolt cutters and snips off the lock. Oh no! the locker is empty. All the textbooks? Gone. The notes and assignments and the essay he had been writing? Gone. His metalwork project? Gone. Gym clothes, $100 Nike's, calculator? Gone. Everything gone.

    Did it stop the bullying? Not as far as I can remember. Did we feel better? Oh yes indeed.

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