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Cyberbullying Laws: Enforcement Difficulties in Schools

April 4, 2013 at 4:12 PM

no bullyingAs more and more states enact tougher measures to prevent and punish cyberbullying -- like Delaware’s recent anti-cyberbullying law, many lessons can be learned from other states having difficulties with enforcing and reporting bullying occurrences.

For example, The Albany Times-Union uncovered several problems with the effectiveness of the New York school systems. Last year, New York’s “The Dignity for All Students Act” increased bullying penalties for incidents on school grounds. Its anti-cyberbullying provisions won’t take effect until July.

The troublesome enforcement aspects under its existing compliance system could magnify when the anti-cyberbullying legislation goes into effect. Here’s some of what the reporters discovered:

· Wide variations from school to school in reporting incidents
· Underreporting due to negative impact for getting on the dangerous school list
· Low reporting because of career implications in the educational system
· High incident reporting with little to no meaningful sanctions (other than the dangerous school list) 
· School’s self-reporting without independent verification made for accuracy uncertainty
· Reporting disparities masked real bullying problems

New York Education Department officials will push for corrections. District attorney Kathleen Rice of Nassau County sent a formal letter to the state’s Education Department in November of last year. But, the Times-Union reported that Rice received no response until they contacted the department requesting a statement for their story.

Ultimately, all agreed that New York’s anti-bullying act was "well-intentioned, but poorly-enacted law" and its state education department agreed to push the state legislature for improvements and to convene a study group to review the problems. Presumably, funding issues may be involved.

So, how can school systems best implement onsite and cyberbullying laws more effectively, given most state’s education funding limitations as it is? Can parents, community volunteers, or non-profit organizations help out in any way? What about state, county, and city law enforcement resources – what role should they play in monitoring incident reporting accuracy?

Let us know what you think! 

Many parents are still in the dark about cyberbullying. Become informed with our eBook: “10 Essential Things Every Parent Should Know about Cyberbullying.” Download your free copy today! Download Our Free Bullycide eBook

Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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