States Charge Forward with Anti-Bullying Laws

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

States Charge Forward with Anti-Bullying Laws

We don’t think twice when asked to name illicit activities: driving while under the influence of alcohol, first-degree murder, kidnapping, shoplifting…

But what about bullying? And what about Cyberbullying? We may think of these instances as heinous crimes but, fortunately, in most states these activities are slowly becoming illegal and carry with them felony charges.

For those of you that are like me and are curious to know just how severely bullying is considered in your state, visit this page produced by the Cyberbullying Research Center. While almost every state has bullying laws in place, only a few have led the fight to include “cyber bullying” in the law. Those states include Arizona, Connecticut, Main, Kansas, Nevada, New Hampshire and Oregon. A few others including New York have recently proposed to add this verbiage to statutes.

One may also take comfort in the fact that dozens of states have included electronic harassment clauses and criminal sanctions.

But the fact still remains that the United States still has a ways to go.

Bullying should most definitely be considered illegal, including all forms of it. Just as a murderer uses a gun or knife to kill, a bully can use cyberspace to kill. Just as driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can cloud your vision and make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, peer pressure clouds vision and leads students to do acts they wouldn’t normally do like victimizing, ostracizing and tormenting. And just as stealing an object from someone leaves that person feeling bereft, stealing someone’s happiness evokes the same feeling of emptiness for the victim.

Bullying should be viewed as just as dangerous as some of the most horrendous crimes out there, especially since its repercussions are the same. No longer do kids bully and victims come home and simply cry; now some of those victims are coming home and taking their own lives. While there are highly publicized examples of this, such as when college freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death after being cyber bullied, there are many other instances as well. For example, 13-year-old Megan Meier decided to hang herself three weeks before her 14th birthday after she was tormented on her MySpace account by her classmates.  The stories are becoming countless.

It may be tough to figure out at what age a kid is capable enough of understanding the consequences of his/her actions. For example, should a high school student be held to a higher standard than a middle school student? I am not sure about that yet.

What I am sure of is that kids need to fear that extensive bullying will lead them down an illegal road. Kids need to worry that excessive bullying will lead them to being identified as criminals. And kids need to fear what can happen if they push someone too far with their cruelty.

After all, how many kids need to die before we view bullying as a crime?


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