The headlines are terrifying. Across the country teenagers have committed suicide in alarming numbers because of the harassment they suffered from cyberbullies. With Facebook, YouTube and cell phones, old-school bullying got a terrifying makeover as technology brought bullying to an entirely different and dangerous level. In an instant, reputations can be ruined. Revealing photos and hurtful messages that are sent into cyberspace or from cell phones has wreaked havoc on the vulnerable lives of children and teenagers in an all together new form of bullying behavior.
To combat this level of aggression, New Jersey has recently passed what’s considered the toughest legislation on bullying in the nation. The law known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights demands that all public schools immediately adopt comprehensive and extensive anti-bullying policies. According to the New York Times, each school must appoint an anti-bullying specialist to investigate complaints and each district must have an antibullying coordinator. The state education department will evaluate the efforts taken and even post grades on its web site. There will also be safety teams made up of parents, teachers and staff to review complaints.
Districts are implementing the law in different ways. Some plan to educate kids as young as kindergarten on the difference between telling and tattling and how they must report to an adult if they see bullying behavior. In other towns in New Jersey bullies can be reported to the police through anonymous tips to Crimestoppers.
Supporters of the law say that schools need to be more involved in the cyberbullying activities happening even outside of the school.
“While it may start on the playground or in the classroom, we now know that bullying is amplified by the prevalence of social media and mobile platforms,” Linda Burch, chief education and strategy officer for Common Sense Media, told the New York Times. “We believe the most effective way to address bullying is through proactive, preventative education.”
But can schools truly handle every issue associated with harassment or intimidation? Is it fair to expect them to handle it all?
“I think this has gone well overboard,” Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, told the New York Times. “Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day. Where are the people and the resources to do this?”
Read more about how you can prevent Cyber Bullying in your own home.