Why legislation won’t stop bullying, online or otherwise

Posted by on September 29, 2011

State and federal anti-bullying laws are unnecessary and ineffective.

This doesn’t set well with many anti-bullying, civil rights, and other political activists and advocates lobbying for state and federal laws.  But what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.

A recent Plain Dealer newspaper article (CSU symposium attendees seek cyberbullying answers) highlights a Cleveland gathering in which State Senator Joe Schiavoni proposes more laws as a solution for bullying.  But while more anti-bullying laws may feel good, they don’t help school administrators on the front lines.

Today the Plain Dealer published my response, Legislation won’t stop bullying, online or otherwise:

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni appears well-intended with his proposed cyberbullying legislation, but his approach misses the mark (“CSU symposium attendees seek cyberbullying answers,” Saturday).

Cyberbullying is a legitimate and challenging issue. Victims are repeatedly abused with mass exposure beyond the one-on-one or small-group embarrassment of in-person bullying.

State and federal anti-bullying laws are unnecessary and ineffective. They provide vaguely defined terms leading to more lawsuits than solutions. And they provide unfunded mandates forcing educators to spend more time with paperwork than kids.

Parents and educators have the most important tools that legislation cannot deliver: Education and supervision. Adults must educate themselves about the tools kids are using and provide appropriate supervision and guidance.

They must also educate their kids about the good, bad and ugly sides of social networking, as well as safe and appropriate use of today’s helpful but sometimes risky technology.

New laws cannot force education and supervision, but good parenting and educating can.

Kenneth S. Trump, Cleveland

Trump is the president of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national school safety consulting firm.

What say you?

Ken Trump

Visit School Security Blog at:  http://www.schoolsecurityblog.com

Follow Ken on Twitter @safeschools

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