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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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Schools should deal with school problems
By nafhan on 8/13/2008 10:25:10 AM , Rating: 5
I'm worried about the precident of schools expanding there jurisdiction to activities that occur outside of school property.
Unless the cyberbullying occurs on school equipment, the school should not have anything to do with it. Depending on what happens, contacting parents or the police may be appropriate, but schools should not have responsibility for things that happen outside of school property.

By ThePooBurner on 8/13/2008 10:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
I couldn't agree with you more. Someone else pointed out the slippery slop being created by this type of totally unnecessary law. We already have laws that deal with the jurisdiction of home life harassment. Just because the people involved with it are minors DOES NOT mean that it has anything to do with schools and them telling us/our kids/anyone what they can and can't do outside of school grounds. The school's authority over a person ends the moment that they leave the campus or when the end of school bell rings (seeing as when school isn't in session and no one is there the grounds are in the jurisdiction of federal law and not the school policies and code of conduct). Laws such as this one are dangerous. We need to have fewer laws that are just enforced better (as well as better parenting and societal responsibility) rather than more pointless laws that extend the reach of the government in to every aspect of our personal lives. With crap like this it won't be to long till a kid gets detention for fighting with his sibblings because "fighting isn't allowed by the school laws".

By tastyratz on 8/13/2008 11:03:04 AM , Rating: 2

This is not just a law protecting people this is overstepping the boundaries and involving irrelevant sources. Its similar to how they take your license if you buy alcohol for underage kids instead of just fines/jail time- even if no automobiles are involved.

Digital bullying is hard to prove too. Anyone could be at the other end of the computer and its difficult to prove it was the minor in question (who probably broke a TOS rule joining whatever they did to begin with)

What if the child behaves well in school but gets in an altercation outside of it. How is that AT ALL relevant to a child's behavior in the education system? Should the be issued detention if the school detects they didn't eat their broccoli? Are parents allowed to even be parents anymore?

I know! Lets have an underage bully registration system similar to a sexual predator registry. That way parents can know who is a bully in their neighborhood and check the registry. Could save a lot of people money on child size bubbles since the world keeps popping them.

The sad part is were probably not that far away from that.

Bullies are a part of life and the school system deals with them now appropriately. School is not just english and math - it is a preparation for life to come. It is an establishment of social skills more than anything. If you shield your child from everything they wont be prepared when it happens.

Where is the participation award they received at sports when they applied for the job and were turned down?

How about the restraining order from that girl they liked? They always had to get valentines from everyone or nobody at all so rejection will be a new concept.

As a child these things are tolerable and points of growth. Maturing still as an adult has consequences that can be dangerous

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