Thomas A. Jacobs
After teaching for 10 years, being a judge for 23 years in juvenile and family court, and raising 5 teenagers, I offer the following suggestions to educators on the subject of bullying.
It should go without saying that bullying and cyberbullying prevention starts at home. It’s the parents’ responsibility to instill in their children a sense of right and wrong, including age-appropriate ethics and etiquette online and off. Kids, like adults, have free speech rights, but not without limits. One may have a legal right to say or do something, but even that doesn’t make it the appropriate thing to say or do. (Consider the minister in Florida who wanted to burn the Koran on September 11, 2010.)
After parents, our education system has its role to play. Schools are responsible for their students approximately 30 hours a week. Educators should reinforce the lessons taught at home. More than 40 states address bullying at school in their education laws, authorizing discipline for bullying actions including suspension and expulsion. Roughly two dozen states have recently enacted specific cyberbullying statutes in their education or criminal codes. New laws mandate bullying prevention programs—some with penalties for teachers and administrators who fail to act. Click here to read more.