Electronic Harassment – The insidious ills of our online society


This blog comes to us from Christopher Burgess. You can read more about Christopher, book him as a speaker or consultant here.

This is the first blog from within the veritate et virtute domain

It is fitting, therefore, this particular post revolve around a topic which continues to provide challenges to legislators both in the United States, as well as elsewhere around this small world we share – “Electronic Harassment.”

Electronic Harassment is a polite word for the many of the insidious ills which have regrettably transitioned to the electronic world from the physical world. Lamentably, the physical world’s ills continue apace, and are now magnified by the ubiquitious global online presence, which is only growing exponentially. The most common and well known form of electronic harassment comes to us in two forms “cyberstalking” or “cyberbullying.”

In the United States, 46 of the 50 states have passed legislation addressing the particulars of the electronic world, largely as an adjunct to existing legislation used to protect individuals within the physical world. A good beginning, with much work remaining to be concluded. Only four states have centralized digital evidence laboratories (Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire). Thus none would be surprised to see the backlog of cases involving digital evidence growing, as this evidence often times crosses the physical jurisdictions and thus causes issues of jurisdictional control of data inter-state and intra-state.

The National Council of State Legislatures, has identified only 19 of 50 states as having legislature which specifically addresses “cyberbullying” within the context of their educational systems. These states (and their appropriate legislative acts) are:

Arkansas (Act 115 -2007);
California (AB 86 – 2008);
Delaware (Chapter 14 – 2009);
Florida (FS 1006.147 – 2008);
Idaho (HB 750 – 2006);
Iowa (SF 61 – 2008);
Kansas (HB 2758 – 2008);
Maryland (HB 199 – 2008);
Michigan (EO 2007-46 – 2007);
Minnesota (Chapter 53 – SF 646 – 2007);
Missouri (SB 818 & SB 795 – 2008);
Nebraska (LB 205 – 2008);
New Jersey (AN 3803 – 2006);
Oklahoma (SB 1941 – 2008);
Oregon (HB 2673 – 2007);
Pennsylvania (SB 1329 – 2008);
Rhode Island (SB 2012B – 2008);
South Carolina (H 3573 – 2006); and
Washington (SB 5288 – 2007)
These states, I believe, have indicated an appropriate starting point, the activities within the school environment must be a safe learning environment, where are the other states? I must, unfortunately, temper my approval of the 19 states legislatures actions with the admonishment we must do more than legislate. If we are adjudicating, haven’t we actually failed to prevent the act from occuring in the first place?

Therefore, I advocate and urge you to engage your elected officials at the state level to avail appropriate resources to the education systems; or be creative and leverage the talents within their constituency to educate the populace on the ills of harassment and bullying. Sometimes the answers lay within reach, just waiting to be leveraged and harvested. We must take action, before one more child, youth, or adult becomes the next victim and before a child, youth or adult on the cusp of engaging in such behavior initiates the actions of harassment.

To that end, I would like to commend to your attention the work of some very fine individuals who have taken it upon themselves to engage the aforementioned populace. Through their engagements they are educating whole communities, so that we will not be able to say, “We didn’t know?” or “What was I to do?”

Sue Scheff – “Stop School Violence – Learn About Bullying” (October 2009)
Michele Borba – “7 Cyberspace DON’TS to Teach Your Kids to Stay Safe Online” (October 2009)
Mary Kay Hoal – “Cyberbullying Advice – From One Mom to Another” (October 2009)
Cati – “Cati Cares”
Linda Criddle (I Look Both Ways) – “Have a Problem With a Website? Get Real People on the Phone”

Thank you for your time.
All the best,


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Categories : cyber bullying

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