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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 HinderedHindsight on 8/13/2008 12:38:36 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
If parents are too lazy or stupid to properly raise their kids, that's their problem.


Yes, then after the problem (the cyberbully) reaches 18 years of age, he/she become societies problem. Then the rest of us have to deal with a cyberbullies lack of ethics or respect for others.

quote:
Again it comes back to only the strong survive. If you can't cut it in the world on your own, you don't belong in it


First of all, these are children. The whole point of raising a child is to prepare them to "cut it" in the world on their own. Even in the wild, animals take some time to teach their offspring. But I'm sure you're of the opinion that we should just send children out into the streets to fend for themselves as soon as they can walk.

But let's take your "survival of the fittest" approach to the problem. If a cyberbully spews some crap about one of their classmates online (or anywhere else for that matter), does their classmate have the right to beat them down? At that point not only does the school get involved but so do the authorities and the legal system. Apparrently the government doesn't share your view of survival of the fittest problem solving.

The way I see it, if they're going to regulate a child's ability to "solve" the problem on their own, then it's not totally unreasonable to take steps to try to prevent problems before (or when) they start.


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