Cyberbullying is catching nationwide attention. Legislators aren’t taking the virtual bullying lightly. In Florida, a cyberbullying bill was passed by Governor Rick Scott after in April 2013. The bill grants disciplinary actions to students who use technology, like cellphones and computers, to bully other students, states on the Miami Herald.
Children have more exposure to TV and Internet than ever before. Satellite packages alone come with 285 channels, says RaserTech, making it difficult to control what content kids are exposed to. Of the many possible negative side effects, cyberbullying ranks at the top because of the terrible impacts it can have on children.
How Does Cyberbullying Affect Children?
According to Cyberbullying.org, cyberbullying is repeated hostile behavior intentionally inflicted upon another person or group. Any time a child uses electronic equipment to harass another child, it’s cyberbullying. Students can bully through texts, photos and social media sites, says StopBullying.gov.
Those who are bullied are more likely to abuse substances, skip school, receive lower grades and experience drops in their self-esteem. They are also more likely to be the victims of bullying in person, according to StopBullying.gov.
Although it affected only 6 percent of children in 2000, cyberbullying now impacts 85 percent of kids, according to the SFGate Blog. In some cases it can be so bad that children, like 15-year-old Audrie Pott, are driven to suicide. Because cyberbullying can have such terrible effects, legislators are passing laws to combat the toxic nature it brings to schools.
How Do We Handle it Legally?
In 2011, New Jersy passed the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act,” which widens the jurisdiction of school districts over where and when cyberbullying occurs, states NJEA.org. Similar actions have been taken by other states, and, as of September 2012, Montana was the only state without anti-bullying legislation, according to CSMonitor.com.
Some worry that the trend against cyberbullying is going too far. A 15-year-old in Newark, New Jersey appeared in court over allegations of cyberbullying. He is alleged to have called a classmate a horse and fat, among other things, according to NJ.com. Some call this normal teenaged behavior, not bullying, states CSMonitor.com.
Experts question whether the legislation has been around long enough to prove effective and point out that the legislative definitions of bullying often do not match up to the clinical ones. According to ThinkProgress, some lawmakers even see anti-bullying legislation as nothing more than a way to get “the homosexual agenda” into the school system.
What are Parents Doing to Prevent Bullying?
Parents are responsible for monitoring their children, teaching them and helping to keep them safe. Even parents of teenagers should keep close tabs on their kids activities, keep the lines of communication open, and if necessary, obtain passwords to accounts that may be causing harm to the child. There are parental controls available through most cable providers, which may help steer your child away from shows that encourage bullying.
Some parents might argue this is too much, but others, like the mother of Audrie Pott, would likely say it can never be enough.
Author Bio:Diane is a single mom and freelance writer who lives in North Carolina.