Leilani Rapaport
June 20, 2012

Battling Cyberbullies

How to deal with online threats.

In a survey of almost 10,000 New York students, more than 68 percent said they have experienced cyberbullying. Almost 70 percent felt that it should be made illegal.

Last September, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer took his life after years of harassment at school and online. Jamey was openly bisexual and he often blogged about bullying, thoughts of suicide, and his idol, Lady Gaga. No criminal charges were filed against his tormentors after his death.

Cases linked to online harassment have ended in lawsuits, suspension, and suicide, prompting a sobering call to action.

Now, cyberbullies in Monroe County, New York would face up to one year in jail or a $1,000 dollar fine, under a bill that passed last week. To become a
law, it only needs County Executive Maggie Brooks? signature.

What’s more, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York legislative leaders have also agreed on a statewide anti-cyberbullying bill, aiming to deter online threatening or harassing and raise awareness on the issue.

While there are concerns that anti-cyberbullying laws violate free speech rights, a 2011 Court of Appeals decision ruled that “schools have a duty to protect their students from harassment and bullying in the school environment.”

It also concluded: “While students retain significant First Amendment rights in the school context, their rights are not coextensive with those of adults.”

Forty-nine states have anti-bullying laws. Forty-two include electronic harassment while only 14 include cyberbullying.

The state-wide anti-cyberbullying bill goes up for a vote this Thursday.

Do you agree with passing laws against bullying, or is it going too far? Can you think of a better solution?

Click here to learn more, and to get tips on avoiding cyberbullies.


How to deal with online threats.

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