Cyberbullying Laws

One myth that is prevalent in today’s society is that cyberbullying is less serious and has less implications than traditional physical bullying. Although many people would believe that traditional bullying is more extensive and has a larger effect on a person’s well-being because it is face to face, this may not be true. In fact, cyberbullying may be just as bad.

“Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Types of traditional bullying includes verbal, social, and physical bullying. Verbal bullying entails name calling, teasing, and taunting as well as threatening to cause hard to the person. Social bullying entails speading rumors, embarrassing someone, telling others not to be friends with that person, and leaving someone out on purpose. Physical bullying entails hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, spitting, and even making obscene hand gestures towards someone. According to the School Crime Supplement, about 21% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 years old experience bullying of some sort (What is Bullying, 2018). Additionally. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System also states that 19% of students between the ages of 9 and 12 have been bullied at school within the last 12 months of the survey (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2018).

Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through digital devices such as a computer or cell phone and includes sharing negative, hurtful, hateful, and mean content that is internationally used to diminish a person’s well-being. Some outlets where this occurs included social media such as twitter, Instagram, snapchat, twitter, and ask.fm. Other outlets include text messaging, instant messaging, or emails. Cyberbullying is often. Cyberbullying is often persistent, permanent, and hard to notice (What is Cyberbullying, 2018). Behind a screen it is easier to say mean and hurtful things without remorse because you aren’t looking in the face of the victim. In 2015 the School Crime Supplement found that 21% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 experienced cyberbullying of some sort (Student Victimization in U.S. Schools, 2018). In 2017 the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicated that there was about 14.9% of high school students who were bullied within the past 12 months (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2018).

Over the past decade or two, the effects of bullying have been continuously researched. Bullying repeatedly has been found to associate with or predict adolescent suicide risk. According to Litwiller & Brausch (2015), both cyber bullying and traditional bullying have positively predicted suicidal behavior, violent behavior, unsafe sexual behavior, and substance abuse. One kernel of truth is that additional information that was found in this study includes that cyber bullying effected all four behaviors slightly more. Besides those four categories, there are also other parts that are affected. Low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression could all motivate victims to use substances are a form of coping with negative feelings (Litwiller & Brausch, 2015). According to the American Psychological Association, traditional bullying in school affects academic achievement. The study that was conducted followed the same students from kindergarten and then into high school. As a result of the study they discovered that chronic or increasing levels of bullying were linked to lower academic achievement and dislike for school. According to a study by Messias et al., 27.4% of people within that study who have been experiencing both cyberbullying and school bullying had increased suicidal ideations, plans, attempts, and attempts that required further treatment.

As for policy implications, New York state has minimal amounts of laws regarding bullying. For school bullying and outside of school bullying, New York does not state it as anything more than harassment. However, The Dignity Act that was enacted on July 1st, 2012. “New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function” (The Dignity Act, 1). Having this law in place can only create an impact if students are being taught the dangers of bullying and know of these laws. In 2012, Senator Jack M. Martins added cyberbullying into existing New York State legislation. This was added after recognition of bullying and harassment was often being funneled through use of technology. Additionally, using electronics is sometimes a faster and more efficient form of communication. This new law allowed for school’s to have more control over bullying through reporting, investigation of the reports, and intervention before escalation, training, and prevention (Cyberbullying Legislation Signed into Law, 2015).

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