The rise in cyberbullying has helped motivate lawmakers across the entire country to address it with legislation — a testament to the pervasiveness of the problem. According to the Christian Science Monitor, 49 states have passed anti-bullying legislation thus far. This thorough approach has some lauding the new measures while others are questioning how effective or advisable such broad legislation actually is.
How does cyberbullying affect children?
Modern technology allows bullying to take on a whole new level of intensity. Consider the case of a 15-year-old California girl. After she had been raped at a party, the girl’s attackers took pictures and put them up over social media. According to CNN, the girl committed suicide eight days later in humiliation. This is an extreme example, but it does demonstrate how easy it is for those who would humiliate others to use social media as a tool for their actions. Bullies usually stop when fathers or other concerned family or friends intervene.
Even those who merely want to point out physical flaws in their classmates have a much wider audience through social media. They can instantly link an insult with a picture of their victim and share it with almost the entire school. The ease of cyberbullying is part of what has fathers today so concerned about it and helps explain why legislators so easily passed laws to combat bullying.
What is happening legally to address the problem?
The laws passed in each of the 49 states vary on what defines bullying. New Jersey now has some of the toughest anti-bullying laws on the books, and the consequences of those laws are beginning to show.
According to NJ.com, schools and parents have reported at least 12,000 bullying incidents in the first year of the law going into effect. Of those incidents, 16 students have filed for appeals thus far. The parents of these young people insist that their children weren’t bullies and that the law is too broad in its definition of the offense.
There are groups that are happy with the adoption of these sweeping laws, however. The Christian Science Monitor points out that supporters are happy because these laws will force schools to deal with the problem of bullying. They will take it seriously now because they have to, instead of just ignoring it.
Those opposed say that there is no proof that laws against bullying are effective while those in favor argue that the proof will come in time.
What are Fathers doing to prevent bullying?
Fathers can help their children put Internet bullying in perspective by keeping communication open, according to Stopcyberbullying.com. Children need a place they can go to where someone will listen. This communication can address a problem as soon as it starts, and can prevent it from getting out of hand.
As stated before, however, the pervasiveness of social media can allow a problem to explode very quickly.
It may be impossible completely to prevent cyberbullying. Just controlling what children are exposed to is a monumental challenge. Satellite television packages alone come with 285 channels, stated Slackware.org.
When a father or other family member discovers cyberbullying, he or she must make the decision on the best way to address it. Stopcyberbullying.com also offers some excellent information on this, but in the end only the parents can decide whether legal action is necessary or not.
A persistent problem
Cyberbullying will remain a challenge for parents and young people. Only time will tell if legislation is the solution to the problem, or if other approaches will be necessary.
Photo by Flickr user MaineDOE