Friday, October 11, 2013

Cyber-Bullying Bill Advances, by Crystal Oravis

         A Wisconsin  bill addressing cyber bullying is moving through the legislature after a public hearing by the Senate Committee on Education.

Recently, schools have begun expanding anti-bullying policies to cover cyber-bullying as well. Cyber-bullying has become a large problem throughout the country and has long-lasting effects on its victims. School districts are now required by law to have an anti-bullying policy of some sort.

The bill in proposal requires a school’s policy to include a specific definition for bullying through electronic devices such as texting and social networking. The policy also contains a statement in regards to bullying that occurs off school property, “if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the pupil being bullied or substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school or school-sponsored event.”

A middle school teacher from the northern part of Wisconsin said, “It’s difficult to determine what can be considered school business and not school business. But how do we draw the line? The closer we get to figuring out that line, the more proactive we can be.” The existing law on bullying does not clarify that schools can and should take action against cyber bullying that includes Facebook, twitter and even texting when it creates a hostile environment for educational facilities.

State Senator Tim Cullen says, “This bill is necessary for Wisconsin Law to catch up to current technology.” He adds, “A threatening or abusive private email can be painfully harassing enough, but a public harassment post for everyone to see can have much more detrimental effects.”

Schoolteachers and officials, police officers, and physicians gave testimony in favor of the urgency of this bill. In order to add testimony to the importance of the cause, Dr. Zorba Pastor, a well known physician, asked his audience to crumple a piece of paper, then asked them to flatten the paper again, to show point being, that it was not possible to get the piece of paper as flat and smooth as it was before.