Bullying is an issue that has been in existence for a long time, yet it has not been adequately addressed. High-level forms of violence such as assault and murder historically receive the most media attention. Lower-level forms of violence such as bullying have only in recent years started to be addressed by researchers, parents and guardians, and authority figures. It is only in recent years that bullying has been recognized and recorded as a separate and distinct offence. A newer form of bullying that has only become an issue in recent years is that of cyberbullying. A majority of states have laws that explicitly include electronic forms of communication within harassment laws. The safety of schools is increasingly becoming a focus of state legislative action. There was an increase in cyber-bullying enacted legislation between the years of 2006 and 2010. Specifically this paper focuses on the policies on cyber-bullying in schools in the state of Tennessee by examining the definition and history of cyber-bullying, research and legislation on cyber-bullying, and efforts of Metropolitan Nashville Public schools against cyber-bullying.
Definitions of Cyberbullying
U.S. Department of Health Definition of Cyberbullying
Cyber-bullying is defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology, including cell phones, computers, tablets, social media sites, test messages, chat rooms, and websites. Cyber-bullying is noted as being different because children who are cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Also, children who are cyberbullied struggle more with getting away from their aggressors. This is because cyber-bullying can occur at any time. It can reach a child when they are alone, is committed anonymously, distributed quickly to a wide audience, and is harder to remove the evidence to help the victim (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2012).
MNPS Definitions of Bullying
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools define bullying as conduct that meets one or more of the following criteria: (1) act directed at one or more individuals that is intended to harm or embarrass; (2) repeated over time; and (3) involves an imbalance of physical, emotional, or social power. Bullying may involve, but is not limited to, unwanted teasing, public humiliation, threatening, intimidating behavior, theft, and sexual, religious, or racial harassment. Cyber-bullying is defined by MNPS as the use of information and communication technologies, including, but not limited to email, cell phone and pager voice, text, still photograph or video messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal web sites, social networking sites and online personal polling sites or journals, to support deliberate and hostile behavior intended to frighten, harm or embarrass others (Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools 6.110).
Growth of the Problem
Cyber-bullying has become a more predominant issue with the rise of technology. Over the past ten years, Internet...