Lawmakers push for cyber bullying legislation - FOX 13 News

Lawmakers push for cyber bullying legislation

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's no longer quite so easy to spot a school bully these days. Instead of pushing and shoving in the hallways, many bullies today are online – hiding behind a computer screen.

But even so, words can be damaging, and now one local leader wants to do more to stand up to cyber bullies.

We are all online these days, Facebooking, Tweeting or posting videos to YouTube, and for teens, the web is a fact of life. Let's be honest: it's a quick and easy way to spread gossip, name call, tease or even taunt another student. 

It's all created some new questions for lawmakers and our educators.  A new house bill has been filed that would require schools to enact policies prohibiting bullying or harassment on a computer.

School officials would also have to investigate reported incidents, even if they happen after school or off campus.

State Representative Mike Fasano from New Port Richey is co-sponsoring the bill. He says it's a problem we can no longer ignore and says some counties in Florida don't have a code of conduct that even mentions cyber bullying. Some experts stress legislation alone is not the answer.

In October of 2010, Dr. Keith Ablow was quoted as saying, "I think what we're seeing here, really, is the dehumanizing, depersonalizing aspect of this technology. Yes, we definitely have to get the word out that you can hurt people with this."

However, there are also some Hillsborough County school board members that have some concerns about the new proposed bill. Some feel that if a student is cyber bullied at home or off school property, should the school really step in? 

Some board members feel that's when parents and guardians need to get more responsible. 

The new bill is coming to light after several recent tragic events in our area, including one in December, when a Pasco County teen took her own life after reportedly being the victim of online taunts and teasing.

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