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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.
  • 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 khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:10PM (#18097642)
    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 authority of the school should end where the school grounds end.
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:12PM (#18097676)
    Yeah yeah, slug 'em and they go away. Except for the case where they come back later with their friends, and it just escalates until you've got guns and knives in school. Nah, that'd never happen.
  • 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!

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Hypocrites (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:18PM (#18097758)
    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 other bullies, like the copyright and patent lawsuit cartels. Yeah, of course everyones acting like a bully. We have such a fine example.
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:19PM (#18097780) Homepage
    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 problems in the open helps you to better deal with the petty office drama that they may face in the future -- stuff that isn't in the open but instead behind your back. If you can't learn to deal with it at a young age, then you will fail in the work place of the future.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:23PM (#18097820)
    I think the Parent is assuming the normal Suburban school situations. In more Urban areas where Gangs are present fighting back alone is sucide, because they will be back with their gang.
  • 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.
  • 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 p0tat03 (985078) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:39PM (#18098086)

    Mod parent up. Confrontation only works when you're in a predominantly middle-class suburban setting. In settings where gangs are common, doing something like the GP is incredibly dangerous. Sock one in the face? Welcome to the ICU, if you're lucky.

    IMHO the answer to bullying is not "toughen up, hit 'em back", nor is it a bunch of inane laws that cannot ever be enforced. It all comes down to the school's ability to discipline their students, and the parents' willingness to discipline their children.

    No amount of school-enforced punishment will be effective if the child goes home and is congratulated by the parent(s) for bullying yet another high school loser. I know of many parents who would do just such a thing, without realizing the kind of little monsters they are creating.

    People bully in order to use the misery of others as a way to elevate themselves in the eyes of their peers. Nobody bullies alone, the mob mentality is a critical component of that behavior. Until the majority of people have no tolerance for bullying, and will stand up not only for themselves but others as well when bullied, this kind of thing will continue.

    And it is unfortunate. For someone caught in bullying (like I once was) there is simply no way out. If you're in a safe enough environment you can sock 'em in the face and be done with it, but if they're part of the Chinese mafia there's really nothing you can do. Schools have their hands tied to giving out punishments that don't even amount to slaps on the wrist, and most often if a child has gotten to that point his/her parents are probably douchebags who can't be bothered to discipline their own children. In this case there is absolutely nothing a bullied child can do.

    People often look at the bullied kids that snap, and point out the ills of our society (rap music, comic books, video games, whatever the problem du jour is). I for one sympathize with many of them. It is difficult for people who have never been bullied to comprehend the level of powerlessness that it instills in you. I've gone through a lot of crap since high school, and everything pales in comparison to the sheer powerless terror that you walk into school with every morning. In our modern atmosphere of classifying everything bad as "terrorism", it's a damned shame that bullying is not, 'cos IMHO it's probably the closest thing to terrorism that happens regularly in America.

    Disclaimer: I do not condone nor endorse the actions of the ones that snap. I am merely saying that I can see why they did, and where they were coming from. When you are in a constant state of terror and fear, and live in a society that tolerates and seemingly encourages it, with absolutely no system or people to turn to, certain crazy things start looking not-as-crazy.

  • Re:Um... No? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:40PM (#18098090)
    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 so]

    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?

    So the difference here is that the parents should be watching what their kids are doing, not the government, but if we had some policy where kids could only publish online after their parent's approval, we'd get a bunch of young slashdot punks complaining about that, too.

    Now, all that said - I agree that the government ought to just keep out of it. The last thing we need is more government intervention in our lives. These are just websites; they cannot hurt anybody. If the site is threatening or libelous, then the target of the offence, and his or her parents, can take legal action already. We don't need more laws.
  • 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 TheCrayfish (73892) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:45PM (#18098168) Homepage

    I know I'm going to get flagged as a troll or flamebait, but I truly believe that this sort of legislative thinking is the natural product of electing liberals into office, whether they be liberal Democrats or liberal Republicans. Unfortunately, it's an alluring illusion -- this idea that we can solve all our problems, protect everyone from everything, and ensure that everyone has an above-average income just by passing some more laws. It's like continuously enhancing and patching a system that works well but which lacks certain bells and whistles -- eventually all of the great engineering that went into the original design (e.g., The US Constitution) gets corrupted and crippled by the endless tweaking, patching, and enhancing.

    True political conservatives (as opposed to moral conservatives or economic conservatives) believe that a good, basic set of principles as described in something like our Constitution should be all that we need to protect our freedoms and property. Any great body of laws beyond that is actually more likely to diminsh freedom and risk personal property than secure them. Unfortunately, the allure of the "just one more law will fix everything" siren is, for most people, irresistable.

  • 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 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 OldeTimeGeek (725417) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:02PM (#18098470)
    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 go away.

  • by Lightwarrior (73124) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:11PM (#18098602) Journal
    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 for good deeds and scolding for bad ones. The result is better, and you didn't have to commit cruelty to an animal to do it.

    But people aren't dogs. That bully you're advocating been physically assaulted - (s)he is a PERSON, too. How are you SOLVING THE PROBLEM with violence? The bully will still be there. (S)he might not bully *you*, but what's going to stop them from bullying someone else? Or bulking up and getting back at the person who hit them?

    As has been said numerous times, violence against the bully isn't a blanket answer. Try addressing the cause and come up with a long-term solution instead of being a violent reactionary.
  • 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.
  • Makes it Worse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@gm a i l . com> 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.
  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:56PM (#18099312) Homepage
    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 to punish who they see do something rather than who they know is the real trouble maker. If you want to stop bullying teachers MUST be able to punish people for things they didn't see or for behavior that is simple talk (in school).

    Yet their seems to be a fundamental tension between giving teachers the power to punish kids for having 'bad attitudes', e.g., teasing or harassing behavior, and being free of the sort of coercion you mention at the funeral. If the teacher can punish for bullies sneering and saying provocative things then how do you draw the line that prevents them from punishing for engaging in mean/provocative behavior toward the parents of the dead child?
  • by Touvan (868256) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @04:01PM (#18100058) Homepage
    Ah, see there was a miscommunication on my part. I didn't say the teacher should talk to the class. I said said the teacher should organize a group discussion and let the students explain why they engaged in the behavior, to understand how that made everyone involved feel, and to try to come up with a better way to deal with the problem the next time.

    I bet your teachers never did that - neither did mine, though they did do a lot of finger wagging.

    I think it is important who's fault it is though, since it's often the case, that everyone involved, including the bystanders that is at fault.

    Also, I knew lots of guys in school that were constantly punished to "deter bad behavior" and you know, it just didn't seem to work. It was always the same guys that got punished, and they eventually dropped out, and some of them are even dead now (I'm 27). They are still belligerent, and never really did figure out how to interact with others. It would have been great if someone could have showed them how.

    I was sincere about that book recommendation (They Don't Like Me). The whole book is written in kind of a journal like way, where she describes the events of a school year as she tried to implement the "You can't say, they can't play" rule set, which she herself didn't think would work at the beginning. Needless to say, her mind was changed by the end.

    Also, this kind of policy has to be introduced early in a child's social experience, IMO. I'd say pre-K to 1st grade. I'm not sure it would have as great an affect on older school kids, for all the reasons you described. But we have to teach these kids how to act like civilized human beings, especially if they are not learning it at home.
  • Hey, guess what. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zantolak (701554) <[zantolak] [at] [comcast.net]> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @04:08PM (#18100166)

    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.
    That's because you can't. I'm so sick of this "cyberbullying" issue being brought up time and time again, when it's completely obvious it's a cover for lawmakers to regulate what we can and can't say on the internet. They always cite the story about the kid who killed himself. This is an extreme, an edge case. Most normal people do not, in fact, kill themselves over unpleasant things people said about them on the internet.

    "The kids are forcing our hands to do something legislatively," said Rhode Island state Sen. John Tassoni, who introduced a bill to study cyberbullying and hopes to pass a cyberbullying law by late 2007.
    No, senator, they're not. You never have to curb free speech, and the most important part of free speech is allowing that which offends you most. Maybe "the kids" can learn to just let it go, and you can stop using them as a cover to try and introduce a legislative solution to a massively overblown social problem. The last thing schools need is even more control of students' lives outside of their jurisdiction. You can't make people play nice on the internet. And you won't.
  • Re:Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wildclaw (15718) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:03PM (#18103672)
    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 friends and therefore has low self-confidence.
    2) Begin bullying that person
    3) If the person fights back he isn't a bullying target, restart at 1. (As a few slashdot posts shows, some people fight back. However, not all people have that strength/confidence)
    4) Now you have found a perfect bullying target. Keep decreasing that persons self-confidence by emphasizing his flaws. Convince him that noone could possibly like him and try to alienate him from the rest of his peers.
    5) Get some shallow sastisfaction that there is now someone that has it worse than you.
    optional 6) Watch as the bullying victim commits suicide because of low self-confidence, or maybe goes berserk and commits mass murder since noone in the world cares about him.

    What could really have prevented the above sequence.

    * Standing up for yourself

    Doesn't work, because the victim doesn't have the self-confidence or personality to do that in the first place. If he had, he wouldn't have become a long term bullying victim in the first place.

    * Authority figures (grown-ups) telling the victim to stand up for himself

    Ouch. Even worse. There is a slight possibility that it works, but if it doesn't and the victim still doesn't have the confidence or personality to stand up for himself, you have just dealt the killing blow to the victim. The victim will now think (and possibly may be correct) that the autority figure dispises him because he didn't have the "guts" to stand up for himself. His self-confidence basically decreases even further and he will most likely not trust authority any longer.

    The same reasoning is also true for non-authority figures telling you to stand up for yourself.

    * Have authority punish the bully

    Doesn't work very well. The victims self-confidence has most likely already been damaged, and even though authority intervenes, the victim doesn't get any real confidence back from it. It is still better than doing nothing of course.

    * Teach everyone to stand up for and protect bullying victims

    This is the best way in my opinion. The one thing that a bullying victim needs is for others of the same status (in other words, not authority figures) to acknowledge him. That acknowledgement will negate most damage that any bully tries to do, and make future bullying attempts less effective.

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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