Last week, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder signed a new anti-bullying bill into law that requires school districts in the state to draft anti-bullying policies within the next six months.
The bill states that districts must enact an anti-bullying policy that informs parents of both parties involved when bullying takes place. But there is a critical flaw in the legislation–there is zero mention of cyberbullying.
When I was a kid, the Internet was not as socially developed as it is now, making cyberbullying a non-issue. But now, with the advent of Facebook and other social networks, bullying has moved from school halls and lunchrooms into cyberspace. This makes it much easier for bullies to prey on their victims because they no longer need to be face-to-face.
According to BullyingStatistics.com, “About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly.” As this statistic shows, cyberbullying is a growing problem that needs to be tackled. The new Michigan anti-bullying law is a good first step, but the legislature has dropped the ball on protecting children online.
One of the best ways to combat cyberbullying is to educate young people about its consequences. And the consequences are very real. PureSight.com states that eight percent of middle-school students have considered taking their own life because of cyberbullying.
The internet is a wide-open place with an infinite amount of ways to communicate with other people. But what people, especially young people, need to do is treat online interactions as if they are taking place in-person. Everyone has heard the saying “treat others how you would like to be treated” before, and online interactions aren’t an exception to the rule.
Our goal should be to make the Web as safe as possible for children; fighting cyberbullying is one of the ways we can do that.
Do you know anyone that’s been cyberbullied? What are some ways we can fight against it?
(© photo: Boom Boom! Revolution)