Text messages and social networking are not all fun and games. The internet can cause problems, not the least of which is cyberbullying. And as students become increasingly fixated on technology, cyberbullying has the potential to become a more widespread issue.
A bill recently introduced in Congress seeks to tackle the issue, and Congress needs to pass it. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require universities that receive federal funding to have anti-harassment policies and to recognize cyberbullying as a form of harassment. Though it was named after a Rutgers University student who committed suicide after a video of his sexual encounter with another male was posted online, the bill pertains to students bullied on the basis of other factors as well — including race, religion, national origin and disability.
Penn already has a zero-tolerence anti-harassment policy that can apply to threats made via electronic communication, but other schools need to have policies that promote acceptance as well. Penn President Amy Gutmann should use her clout to publicly support the new bill and ensure anti-bullying policies are more common. Because Congress is in a lame-duck session, the bill will need all the support it can get to pass in a timely manner.
Whether it takes place in person or online, bullying can lead to psychological problems no student should ever experience. If legislation like this is successful, there is a greater likelihood that it will get better.Comments powered by Disqus
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