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Seeks to expel students who digitally harass others

Lawmakers in California are considering a bill to punish bullies that harass fellow student via digital means, such as test messages or social networks like MySpace.

Introduced in the California legislature by Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance, Assembly Bill 86 opens up the possibility of suspension or expulsion to students who threaten others via any electronic medium, defined as “any information … transmitted by wire, radio, optical cable, electromagnetic or other similar means.”

With the advent of the internet, educators are finding it increasingly difficult to watch for the signs of bullying, as students trade physical altercations with digital ones – incidents that leave occur outside of school grounds and leave little in the way of visible scars.

A California government-sanctioned review of the bill notes inspiration from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Task Force on School and Campus Safety, which published a report suggesting schools increase their prevention activities against bullying in any form, “including cyber bullying.”

“The growth in the use of technology and social networking sites by younger Americans has fueled a fear among professionals that cyber bullying will become the means most often utilized to harass,” reads the report. “while certainly more prevalent in the elementary and secondary school setting, issues related to bullying or intimidation are increasingly relevant in other nontraditional settings.”

Much of legislators’ awareness of cyberbullying can be traced to the case of Megan Meier, a chronically-depressed 13-year-old who committed suicide in 2006 after a friendship with a “16-year-old boy” – really the parent of one of Meier’s friends, 49-year-old Lori Drew – turned south. A local police investigation eventually turned into a federal investigation, and in May 2008 Drew a federal grand jury indicted Drew on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization.

The FBI’s “questionable” logic in choosing to prosecute Drew based on her decision to violate MySpace’s Terms of Service (TOS) has since kicked off a thriving debate among legal experts, with lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation informally offering to step in on Drew’s behalf.



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RE: Safe and Secure
By 306maxi on 8/13/2008 9:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's really as much of a problem if you teach your child not to give out their details to anyone and not to talk to anyone they don't like. I was on ICQ and MSN when I was at school and I just didn't talk to anyone I didn't like. I personally don't see the point of social networking. Kinds are online a lot these days. If they want to have send each other messages what's wrong with MSN Messenger and email? Social networking is the means to an end for the bullies. Stop children using needless social networking sites and the problem of cyber bullying disappears overnight.


RE: Safe and Secure
By HrilL on 8/13/2008 1:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you quite understand the scope of the problem and the article doesn't mention this either. It is everywhere! It is not just Chat networks and social networks. It is the games these kids are playing online. I grew yup before we had these social networks and there was cyberybullies everywhere. Every game I played had them and you can't stop other people from giving out your contact info plus you block one screen name and they go out and make 10 more in a few seconds.


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