Senate to hear presentation on cyber bullying bill

    9:56 PM, Mar 16, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's happening across the country and here in Arkansas. And on Thursday, the Arkansas Senate could vote on a bill making cyber bullying a crime.

    The bill's sponsor, Sen. Linda Chesterfield of Little Rock, says the Senate will hear a presentation on the bill Thursday.

    Chesterfield expects a vote to follow with a good chance to pass.        

    These days school comes with a little extra baggage for some students, carrying pain triggered by bullies. But it goes another step online.

    Whether on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, cyber bullying can be even more damaging and often times go unreported.

    "Only 10 percent of kids report being cyber-bullied when they are, so we need to improve that," Dr. Erick Messias said.

    Dr. Erick Messias is with the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute. He says kids don't often share with adults because of trust issues and a fear of retaliation. But a proposed Senate bill could change that.      

    "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 persecute it," Messias said.

    Senate Bill 214 hopes to make cyber bullying a crime in Arkansas, carrying a misdemeanor charge with a fine if convicted. It targets attacks on computers and phones, including messages on popular social networking sites.  

    Chesterfield feels even though some threats may be anonymous, technology can track perpetrators down. Dr. Messias says the bill's a good first step but says we can't forget how many steps faster technology moves.

    "Technology is always evolving and the moment we create a law to address a specific issue, another type of technology will come on board and will change and create new challenges for society," Messias said.

    Chesterfield says she's pushing this bill based on the negative and sometimes fatal affects of cyber bullying. She says she's hearing lots of support for her bill from students, teachers and parents.

    The Senate convenes tomorrow at 11 a.m. and again Chesterfield expects a vote to follow her presentation.


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