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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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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".


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