Cyberbullying Bill Proposed in Iowa House
(SIOUX CITY, IA) - The hot button issue of bullying is heading to the Internet thanks to Iowa politicians. A group of state lawmakers introduced a bill Monday to stop "cyberbullying".
The award-winning film "Bully" that was partially shot in Sioux City has raised more awareness about the problem. Although the bill's goal is to protect students against bullying, some believe it may violate students' first amendment rights.
"It provides more training to teachers and to school administrators into how to deal with bullying," said Bruce Hanson, a Des Moines Democrat.
Advocates for bullying prevention say politicians are missing the point.
"Let's not wait until it happens. Let's not be reactive, but let's educate families and children and schools so that we never get to that point," said Fiona Valentine, Director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning Coordinator.
The American Civil Liberties Union has had its say on laws regarding bullying online, believing the word "cyberbullying" itself causes an issue.
"It is a very significant change when schools are attempting to regulate the speech of people away from campus," said Ben Stone, Executive Director of the ACLU of Iowa.
The ACLU also said the cyberbullying bill infringes on a parent's role at home.
"Simply provides too much of a threat to constitutionally protected free speech," said Stone.
However, Hunter has a reason for getting schools involved.
"The bullying interfering with their concentrating in class and being able to take advantage of our education system," said Hunter.
Regardless, Sioux City Schools want to make sure they can do their job first and foremost.
"We're not going to be able to police everything and certainly our focus should be on student achievement and getting those grades up," said Marilyn Changing, Director of Pupil Services & Equity.
Sioux City Schools have policies in place that if a student bullies another student, one consequence could be to take away their school laptop.