|Apr 19, 2012|
New bill focuses on cyberbullying in California
Lawmakers in California recently passed a bill giving state schools more authority in punishing students who harass others online. This new effort to stop cyberbullying, Bill AB1732, lets administrators suspend or expel students who impersonate classmates on social networking websites or create pages intended to intimidate or hurt others.
Nora Campos, a Democratic assemblywoman from San Jose, said that this bill will appropriately update California's anti-bullying solutions, as the original laws were written in 2006 before social media became such a prolific part of student's lives, according to the Associated Press.
"People today are bullying in a very different way," Campos told interviewers. "I want to make sure that there are no loopholes."
Campos also announced that she plans to continue to update bullying laws to cover any new methods that students use to harass others. However, she acknowledged that teens tend to stay "a step or two ahead" of lawmakers, as they often use and understand social networking sites better than adults, according to the news source.
A recent study by the University of British Columbia suggests that schools and lawmakers need to take different approaches to oppose cyberbullying than those typically employed to combat traditional bullying. According to Health24, the study found that many teens downplay the seriousness of online bullying activities.
"Youth say that 95 percent of what happens online was intended as a joke and only 5 percent was intended to harm," Jennifer Shapka, associate professor in the Faculty of Education at UBC who is presenting this research to the American Educational Research Association (AERA), told the news source . "It is clear that youth are underestimating the level of harm associated with cyberbullying."
Shapka believes that students must be better educated on the serious implications that these "jokes" have, and that existing intervention methods have to be updated, in order to more accurately address online aggression. According to the news source, parents should also be heavily involved in educating children on the facts about bullying, rather than relying solely on schools.
"An open and honest relationship between parents and children is one of the best ways to protect teenagers from online risks related to cyberbullying, Internet addiction, and privacy concerns related to disclosing personal information online," Shapka said.
uTip, the Bully Buster, is one resource that schools can deploy to help fight bullying. Powered by e2Campus, uTip allows students to anonymously report bullying to school officials, whether they see it during school hours or online.