Bullying used to mean bigger, more aggressive kids picking on the timid or different. With social networking sites giving millions of young adults a new place to expose their identities, opinions, interests and vulnerabilities came a new arena for predators to ridicule those differences. As a sign of the times, the Arkansas Senate could make cyberbullying a crime.
With these cases becoming more prevalent, especially in the wake Tyler Clementi, of the outed gay Rutgers student who commited suicide, the issue of bullying, and cyberbullying in particular, has been pushed to the forefront of national discussion. In attempt to suppress and discourage these tragedies from happening again, Arkansas is attempting to criminalize the practice.
“It’s important that the law recognize this type of behavior and starts to delineate what is appropriate, what is not appropriate and how to actually prosecute it,” said Dr. Erick Messias of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Psychiatric Research Institute.
President Barack Obama said during a White House conference on bullying approximately 13 million students are bullied every year. What’s more, only 10 percent of victims report the mistreatment. Hopefully this new legislation will act as not only a deterrent to cyberbulling, but will give those that are too scared to be vocal a new voice in speaking out.