A recent New York Times article
once again brings up the issue of cyberbullying and the appropriate response by schools and parents.
Schools these days are confronted with complex questions on whether and how to deal with cyberbullying, an imprecise label for online activities ranging from barrages of teasing texts to sexually harassing group sites.
Various attempts have been made to either institute criminal law
punishing cyberbullies or to educate and build awareness
of the problem. When the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary's Crime Subcommittee held hearings last September on cyberbullying and two competing legislative responses (criminalization and education), PFF's Berin Szoka and Adam Thierer filed extensive written testimony
arguing that the best way to protect children from bullying is to educate both the students and their parents about the dangers of online bullying as well as the steps that can be taken to prevent it.
The reason educational-based approaches are so vital is because they can help teach kids how to behave in--or respond to--a wide variety of situations. Education teaches lessons and builds resiliency, providing skills and strength that can last a lifetime.
If anything, the Times
article shows that parents and school administrators are taking an increased interest in their children's activities online, as well as the steps that can be taken to protect them. If Congress needs to "do something," it should facilitate parenting and education efforts, rather than encroaching upon free speech rights or making teen-on-teen cyberbullying a felony offense, thus branding young people forever for mistakes made in their youth.