Privacy & Security

Cracking Down on Cyberbullying

By Katie Ash — December 29, 2008 1 min read

There’s an interesting story up on The Sacramento Bee about a new law that will take effect on Jan. 1 in California that allows school districts to punish students for cyberbullying.

Specifically, the law allows schools to suspend or expel students for bullying other students over the Internet, through text messages, and other electronic means. Part of the impetus for the passing of the bill was the case of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide after a complicated case of cyberbullying and deception on MySpace. (You can read more about that here.)

As cyberbullying becomes more and more of a problem for schools, I think it’s only appropriate for schools to have the authority to be able to deal with it, just as they would a physical or verbal fight. At this point, cyberbullying—partly because of its anonymous capabilities—has become a major problem for many teens. A Pew Internet study (PDF) back in 2007 reported that about 13 percent of students had endured a rumor being spread about them online, and 13 percent said they’d received a threatening text message, email, or instant message. I can only imagine that those numbers have grown in the past year.

Digital Directions writer Michelle Davis wrote a fascinating story related to this topic a few months ago, if you’re interested in learning more about how schools are dealing with the problems that arise with social-networking Web sites.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.