A Tragic End to Two Young Lives: Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi

Prior to the Rutgers University freshman’s suicide in the fall of 2010, relatively few people knew Tyler Clementi before the student jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge, but the wake from that sad and desperate act is now felt around the world.

According to prosecutors, no one is certain why Tyler Clementi took his life in September of 2010 but his suicide occurred after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, used a webcam to watch Tyler have a sexual encounter with another man in their dorm room. It is reported that Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, set up a webcam and watched with a friend, Molly Wei, in her dormitory room. Clementi appears to have found out about the webcast and had filed a complaint with the resident assistant. After the webcam matter was discovered by the authorities, both Ravi and Wei were charged with invasion of privacy.

Today, Dharun Ravi was found guilty of all fifteen (15) charges against him, including invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation. The jury decided that he not only spied on Tyler Clementi and another man as they were kissing but also singled out Clementi because he was gay.  Ravi, 20, former Rutgers University student, could get up to ten (10) years in prison by some estimates and could be deported to his native India even though he has lived legally in the U.S. since he was a child. Months ago, Ravi and his lawyers rejected a plea bargain that would have spared him from prison, and prosecutors would have even helped him avoid deportation. In rejecting the prosecutors’ plea deal, Ravi gambled big and lost.

Many assert that intolerance is growing at the same rate cyberspace has given us the ability to invade the lives of others. Tyler Clementi’s suicide highlighted the need for more stringent anti-bullying law. After Tyler’s tragic death, many advocates assert that New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that is the toughest anti-bullying law in the country. Some argue that, New Jersey’s law is vastly different and much better than anti-bullying laws that exist elsewhere across the country.

New Jersey’s “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” is intended to eliminate loopholes in the state’s first anti-bullying law, enacted in 2002, that encouraged school districts to set up programs to combat bullying but did not mandate it. The new law requires training for most public school teachers, administrators and other employees on how to spot bullying and mandate that all districts form a “school safety team” to review complaints. School districts will be graded by the state on their efforts to combat the problem.

Administrators who do not investigate reported incidents of bullying would be disciplined, while students who bully could be suspended or expelled. School employees would also be required to report all incidents they learn of, whether they took place in or outside of school. The effective implementation of this law should serve to provide children and youth with a sense of safety and freedom from being intimidated or harassed.

For further information on bullying, there are several websites you can visit including but not limited to: http://www.fightcrime.org; http://www.bullypolice.org; http://www.healthline.com; http://www.cyberbullying.us; http://www.stopbullying.org; http://www.isafe.org ; and others.

Source(s): “College student guilty in webcam suicide case”, Geoff Mulvihill, Duluth New Tribune, Friday, March 16, 2012. §2 – C.18A:37-13.1 §1 – C.18A:37-13.2 §16 – C.18A:37-15.3 §§17; http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/AL10/122_.PDF. Fight Crime.org; Bully Police USA, Inc.; Healthline.com; Politics Daily; MyFoxPhilly.com; NJ.com; Cyber Research Center; Stop Bullying, Inc.; and i-Safe, Inc.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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