New laws needed to combat cyberbully threat [Irish Indipendent, by Sarah Slater, 30/08/2014]

A stark rise in cyberbullying has led to calls for a radical overhaul of legislation to deal with the problem.

A recent survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found incidences of cyberbullying had increased by a third from last year. Up to 14pc of students who took part in the recent first national study into bullying have admitted they have been cyberbullied.

Researchers from the Anti- Bullying Centre at Dublin City University (DCU) have found that another 8pc admitted to cyberbullying others. A further 39pc of girls and 30pc of boys reported that they had witnessed someone being cyberbullied.

The study involved a group of 2,700 students, aged from between 12 and 16, in eight post-primary schools late last year.

David Fagan, a solicitor and health and safety law expert, said he believed it would take a “horrific case” of bulling or cyberbullying before the State would implement new legislation around the issue.

“There is no specific legislation here which deals with this issue.

Bullying and cyberbullying need to be defined and penalties around such need to urgently be introduced here,” said Mr Fagan.

“Even schools and teachers don’t seem to realise how they could not be covered by appropriate legislation when it comes to dealing with this issue. We are way behind other countries when it comes to this worrying issue.”

Mr Fagan was speaking ahead of the first-ever national conference on cyberbullying, which is being held at Dublin Castle on Monday by the Bully4U organisation and the Anti Bullying Centre at DCU.

The conference aims at educating and empowering parents, teachers and health professionals in providing support to victims and developing cyberbullying prevention and intervention strategies.

There will be an international line-up including spokespeople from Facebook, Twitter and controversial site Ask.FM.

Jim Harding, founder of Bully4U, a group which visits Irish schools to provide training on the issue, added: “Identifying threats and trends around cyberbullying is so important. We need to equip professionals at the coal face to understand and manage this cyberbullying epidemic in our schools, and clubs.

“Specific recommendations to policy and decision makers at EU and government level have to happen now.”
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Overhaul of law around cyber-bullying urged [Irish Examiner, by Sarah Slater, 30/08/2014]

A radical overhaul of legislation around cyberbullying is needed as it is spiralling out of control, according to a leading law expert.

A recent survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found 16% of Irish students have experienced bullying online — a 33% increase on last year.

Up to 14% of students who took part in the recent first national study into bullying have admitted they have been cyber-bullied.

Researchers from the Anti-Bullying Centre at DCU have found that another 8% admitted to cyber-bullying others.

The study was carried out on a group of 2,700 students, aged from between 12 and 16, in eight post-primary schools late last year.

A further 39% of girls and 30% of boys reported that they had witnessed someone being cyber-bullied.

David Fagan, a health and safety law expert, believes it will take a “horrific case” of bulling or cyber-bullying before the State will implement new legislation around the issue.

“There is no specific legislation here which deals with this issue. Bullying and cyber-bullying need to be defined and penalties around such need to urgently be introduced here,” said Mr Fagan.

“There is all sorts of legislation here, such as the Children’s Act and Education Act, but the State doesn’t recognise bullying as a concept. Here you have to bring a personal injury case against someone which doesn’t specify bullying.

“Even schools and teachers don’t seem to realise how they could not be covered by appropriate legislation when it comes to dealing with this issue.

“We are way behind other countries when it comes to this worrying `issue. There was one case here which was brought under the Post Office Amendment Act of 1951 around one site and the use of telephone.

“But that legislation is so old. It is nuts that we are using archaic law. The law around this issue is based in the Stone Age and has not kept pace.”

Mr Fagan is speaking ahead of the first ever national conference on cyber-bullying, which is being held at Dublin Castle on Monday by the Bully4U organisation and the Anti Bullying Centre at Dublin City University (DCU).

The conference aims at educating and empowering parents, teachers and health professionals in providing support to victims and developing cyber-bullying prevention and intervention strategies.

There will be an international speaker line-up, including spokespeople from Facebook, Twitter and ASK.FM.

Jim Harding, founder of Bully4U which visits schools nationwide to provide training on the issue to schools, added: “Identifying threats and trends around cyber-bullying is so important.

“We need to equip professionals at the coal face to ‘understand and manage this cyber-bullying epidemic in our schools, clubs and digital playgrounds.

“An exchange of best practice about recognition, monitoring and prevention of harmful on-line communication and cyber-bullying, especially in schools and families in so badly needed.

“Specific recommendations to policy and decision makers at EU and government level has to happen now.”

Christie Signs Tougher Law on Bullying in Schools [ The New York Times, by Richard Perez-Pena, 6/1/2011]

New Jersey on Thursday enacted the nation’s toughest law against bullying and harassment in schools, three and a half months after the suicide of a Rutgers University student drew national attention to the issue.

The law spells out a long list of requirements, including the appointment of specific people in each school and district to run antibullying programs; the investigation of any episodes starting within a day after they occur; and training for teachers, administrators and school board members. Superintendents must make public reports twice a year detailing any episodes in each school, and each school will receive a letter grade to be posted on its Web site.

The law, which goes into effect at the start of the next school year, lists harassment, intimidation or bullying as grounds for suspension or even expulsion from school. It applies to public schools, and portions of it apply to public colleges.

A bill had been in the works since 2009, but it gained momentum last fall. It passed both houses of the Legislature on Nov. 22, with just one dissenting vote, and Gov. Chris Christie signed it into law on Thursday. The New Jersey School Boards Association endorsed the law, concluding that schools could largely carry it out with existing resources.

“This is one of the great civil rights laws in New Jersey history, and to have a fairly conservative Republican governor sign it sends a resounding signal to other states,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman and chief executive of Garden State Equality, a gay rights group, who was involved in drafting the law. “It’s also a major achievement for bipartisan governance in New Jersey.”

On Sept. 22, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge; three days earlier, officials have said, his roommate surreptitiously streamed video of him in an intimate encounter with another man. While it remains unclear what role the video may have played in Mr. Clementi’s suicide, news coverage of the episode gave added impetus to efforts to enact laws against bullying and harassment.

“No question, that tragedy and a string of other suicides in the fall by school kids gave it momentum,” said State Senator Barbara Buono, Democrat of Middlesex County, a prime sponsor of the bill. “The idea is just to make the climate of school one of tolerance and respect.”

Forty-five states have laws against bullying, and New Jersey has had one since 2002, including a 2007 amendment covering cyberbullying. New Jersey becomes the fifth state to adopt a new law in the past year; New York was among the others.

“Other states have bits and pieces of what this New Jersey law has, but none of them is as broad, getting to this level of detail, and requiring them, step by step, to do the right thing for students,” said Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director at the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group. Many states, she said, do not even offer the protections of the 2002 New Jersey law, which made it a crime to bully or harass on the basis of race, sex, sexual and gender identity or disability.