The problem of school bullying was the subject of a recent postÃ‚ here at Terms + Conditions. In it we noted that with increased access to and use of technology, cyberbullying is a growing concern.
An article in the New York Times over the weekend reports that as bullies go digital, parents are struggling to know the best way to respond. As the NYT states:
It is difficult enough to support oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s child through a siege of schoolyard bullying. But the lawlessness of the Internet, its potential for casual, breathtaking cruelty, and its capacity to cloak a bullyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s identity all present slippery new challenges to this transitional generation of analog parents.Ã¢â‚¬
According to the NYT, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just about parents being technologically a step behind or failing to acknowledge the issue. Many struggle with how to supervise their childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Internet activities, and how to proceed in the event their child is the victim of an attack.
Part of the problem is also that schools may be reluctant to get involved when the behavior occurs off-campus, and going the law enforcement route may involve a protracted process.
What about the legal environment? According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, at last count 44 states had laws regarding bullying, and 30 of those included some mention of electronic forms of harassment. Almost all of these laws direct school districts to have a bullying and harassment policy, though few delineate the actual content of such policies.
The Center advises educators, parents and law enforcement officers to carefully review and understand the statutes in their own state to understand the formal legal implications of participating in cyberbullying.