Gone are the days when the only weapon in a bully’s arsenal was the fist. These days, bullies can attack their victims with myriad online tools, too.
Cyber bullying, as it’s known, has been directly linked to dozens of high-profile suicides among teens and pre-teens around the country.
Recognizing that California’s current laws (passed in 2006) are out of date, California lawmakers are considering a bill that would punish cyber bullies. Under the bill, schools could suspend or expel students who create profiles impersonating schoolmates or “burn pages” filled with content meant to hurt others.
Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) is a strong supporter of the bill. Campos, who has championed past anti-bullying legislation, told the Chron:
“People today are bullying in a very different way. I want to make sure there are no loopholes.”
Proponents of the bill are framing this issue in terms of life and death. Some have even called the problem an epidemic.
Assemblyman Charles Calderon of Whittier noted:
“Words kill, and we’ve seen examples of that.”
Observers credit a new documentary film called “Bully” with encouraging the state to act. Some lawmakers, like Campos, plan to host screenings in their districts.
For once, there was no partisan rancor as the bill moved forward, passing the Assembly by a vote of 58-0 on its way to almost-certain passage in the Senate.