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States Seek Laws to Curb Online Bullying 251

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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  • by Noonian Soong ( 1016626 ) * <soong@memb e r . f s f . o rg> 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 Hubbell ( 850646 ) <{brianhubbellii} {at} {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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:24PM (#18097850)
    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 someone to protect me. I knew that I was demonstrating my existence as a human being by refusing to join them in animalistic behavior.

    Yes, as a side note, when I discovered Frank Herbert, I enjoyed the read.

    Different strokes for different folks. That's the beauty of our variances.
  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:28PM (#18097906)
    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 suppose there were some other social break down factors involved.

    Either way... Do you want to teach your children to respond to violence with violence and to stand up for themselves? I mean it is a noble cause but people who stand up for themselves in modern violent situations usually end up as a dead hero when they try to stand up to the gun man or whatever criminal they encounter in life.

    Perhaps the real problem is communication between the children and authority. Bullying can be prevented by interacting with the parents of the bully and the school authority. If it can't be manage the child has to be expelled.

    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.

  • Zero Tolerance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @01:30PM (#18097932)
    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 bitch, wana go?" ...

    I'm not saying that it isn't appropriate to teach your children to defend themselves, but fighting is an inappropriate behavior which should be discouraged.
  • 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:Zero Tolerance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @02:34PM (#18098952)

    You'd be amazed at what can be solved with a minor dust up every once in awhile. Zero tolerance just creates a pressure cooker. In stead of a scuffle and stare down, one side decides to "make it worth it", generally the victim.

    And you'd be amazed how one high-status person (read "popular") can completely destroy bullying ...

    In Elementary/Junior High School I wasn't too popular, but in high-school I became reasonably popular for various reasons. One of my friends (who was more popular than I was) disliked bullying and whenever he saw someone put another person down said "That's not cool" ... It took about 1 month before (pretty much) no one in the school would make fun of other people based on what they wore or how they looked ...
  • 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.
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @05:19PM (#18101134)
    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 that tried. The gun carrying student was expelled. Not the school endorsed gang.

    It is well known that members of sports teams are given extra powers in school affairs, and that physical violence will be far more tolerated by those groups.

    So, just to be clear, EVERY time you hear a story about the 'weird' kid snapping and going on a shooting rampage, you have seen the "popular media" report on a story in which a bully is protected by the school administration.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.