Bullying has been a problem in America’s schools for as long as anyone
can remember. It’s a difficult problem to solve; often, children
accused of bullying don’t realize that what they’re doing
is wrong or don’t understand the harm that their words or actions do.
Educators are well-versed in combating bullying at school, but recent advances
in social media have taken bullying out of the school yard and onto the Internet.
It’s called cyber-bullying, and awareness of the practice has grown
sharply in recent years. Children often use the anonymity provided by
the Internet to send abuse to one another. This sort of bullying can be
more difficult to detect and to stop, as those who have been bullied often
do not reveal the actions to their parents or teachers.
Recently, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler announced that he planned
to take a personal hand in putting a stop to bullying in Maryland schools.
Most people do not think of bullying as a legal issue, instead considering
it a matter of schoolyard discipline. However, the abuse can be punishable
by law. Cyber-bullying, in particular, is punishable by a Maryland law
that was enacted following the suicide death of a 15-year-old girl, who
was the victim of cyber-bullying.
Cyber-bullying is indeed an
Internet crime, and efforts should be made to put a stop to it. However, authorities
should take care when charging minors with cyber-bullying. In many cases,
they may not understand what affect their words, which were not delivered
face-to-face, had on the victim. They may be too young to truly grasp
the consequences of what they had done. As a result, prosecutors and judges
should take care to seek a punishment that educates and rehabilitates
a person convicted of cyber-bullying, rather than a harsh sentence that
Source: WJZ-TV, “Md. Attorney General Teams Up With Schools To Track Bullies” Gigi Barnett, Nov. 06, 2013