Legally Confronting Bullying Conduct

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In response to the increasing number of deaths associated with bullying, there have been anti-bullying laws enacted across the country. Forty-four (44) states and the District of Columbia have enacted anti-bullying laws. Seven states have criminal sanctions which attach to bullying. States have created systems to investigate claims of cyber bullying that help police and school officials to better ascertain the circumstances of each occurrence and prosecute or punish the culprits to the fullest extent of the law.

The law enforcement community has responded to this growing phenomenon by seeking to diligently enforce the anti-bullying laws and working with the community to raise awareness about this pressing problem. Additionally, students, parents, educators, administrators, some elected officials and other concerned citizens have been advocating for better laws to address this growing problem. Their collective advocacy efforts have been relatively successful nationwide.

After the death of Tyler Clementi, New Jersey enacted an “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights”. New Jersey’s recently enacted “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 mandates 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.

Under the Anti Bullying Bill of Rights, administrators who do not investigate reported incidents of bullying will be disciplined, while students who bully could be suspended or expelled. School employees will 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.

The Obama administration has joined the efforts to combat bullying. His administration is directing resources for the express purpose of reducing bullying in schools and to raising awareness around its ramifications, and, of course, to countering its negative impact. Toward that end, the White House convened a conference on preventing bullying, on Thursday, March 11, 2011. The Obama administration launched of a new website, http://www.stopbullying.gov, devoted to bullying prevention. There are other resources available to combat bullying including but not limited to: the Cyberbullying Research Center website.

The Cyberbullying Research Center website provides information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyber bullying among adolescents. The Center’s overarching goal is to bring sound research about cyber bullying to the forefront; and serve as a clearinghouse of information concerning the use and misuse technology by adolescents. (Cyberbullying Research Center).

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

Source(s): §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.; i-Safe, Inc.; “NJ Assembly, Senate Passes “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights’ in Wake of Tyler Clementi’s Death” November 22, 2010, NJ.com; “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi Commits Suicide After Video Voyeurism”, October 5, 2010, Star Ledger.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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