Anti-bullying Laws Don't Work Offline; Why Do Politicians Think They'll Work Online?

from the bullying-is-bad,-m'kay? dept

There's no denying that school bullying can be a terrible thing for those who are being bullied. But, in the last few years, the urge to overprotect has gone to ridiculous lengths, including various "anti-bullying" laws (not to mention the silly idea that if Spiderman told kids to stop bullying, they would). Yet, as Eric Goldman points out, a new report notes that there's no evidence that anti-bullying laws actually do anything at all to prevent or stop bullying. It's one of those laws that people want because it sounds good, rather than actually doing anything good. Politicians pass them because who could possibly be in favor of bullying? But the problem is that these laws don't actually do anything, and now there are all sorts of attempts to expand them online where they still won't do anything to solve the problem, but will be used to go after people that prosecutors don't like.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:29am

    Hell

    I suspect hell for litigators and law-makers is a where in which all laws are fully enforced all the time...

    Ah, delicious irony!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Re: Hell

    And then there's times when one's mental sentence construction outpaces one's fingers. *sigh*

    It should read:
    I suspect hell for litigators and law-makers is a place where all laws are fully enforced all the time...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    PFPW

    When did the PFPW (People For a Perfect World) become the dominant political party? We're at the bottom side of the slippery slope, looking up and saying "Wasn't there a time when the government governed and let parents parent?" There are lots of approaches to bullying that don't involve the government. A) Run away, B) Sack up and stand up for yourself, C) Have your parents call the bully's parents, and others. I've experienced those personally in varying degrees. Laws like this are how the nanny-state gets its name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    there's no evidence that anti-bullying laws actually do anything at all to prevent or stop bullying

    There's a shocker! What proponents of such legislation are looking for, and will use to defend their proposals, is preventing "Columbine's" or another Myspace 'fraud' suicide. Some kids are small, some are nerds, some are poor, some are gay, some are retarded. They will be bullied. These laws are nothing but words written on paper that no kid or most adults would ever read. In my state they past a similar law. It basically said who was protected but left it up to school administrators on how/when to implement it. Purely a 'for the children' vote grab.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    I hate to get petty, but can you name any law which actually prevented the activity made illegal? Murder has been illegal for a long time, yet, it happens nearly everyday in my rust-belt city. Not to mention speeding, stopping at red lights, rape, etc...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Okay, Uncle Sam, here's the deal

    When YOU stop bullying US, then we'll reconsider your legistlation on bullying.

    Until then, piss off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    You know who else is getting threats of bullying right now? The United States Marine Corps. They're in Afghanistan.

    When can we expect to apply 'for the children' anti-bullying laws to them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Vote for Anonomous Coward

    >>Politicians pass them
    >>because who could possibly
    >>be in favor of bullying?

    Okay, I've just decided to run for Congress. In the middle of a major debate, I promise to one-up Joe Wilson and drop my pants or something.

    Naah, I'm not really going to run for Congress. First of all, I'm too dumb, second of all, they're all too dumb, thirdly, I'm planning on leaving the country very soon- when I make enough money, I'm going to buy back my island from Marlon Brando's family.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Fuck bullies.

    Decriminalize self-defense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    scarr (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    If online bullying becomes illegal, how will political websites survive?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    Re: Vote for Anonomous Coward

    Better move soon, my plans for total takeover are almost upon you....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    stopping at red lights is illegal now? Woohoo!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Vote for Anonomous Coward

    That's awesome! Can I visit when they crown you "King of the Clownfish"? Take care of your subjects, make sure you feed them every day at 1:00!

    Your're hurting my feelings!

    Bahaha!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    iNtrigued (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re:

    Remember, just because they continue to happen doesn't mean many, many more weren't prevented from happening. I mean, if murder was made legal wouldn't murder be a good way to eliminate competition or someone you didn't like? Assuming of course you have no moral compass.

    While laws don't stop every act of violence or criminal behavior, there most certainly would be much more happening if those laws were reversed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Grae (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Mike, don't you know that with the "innovention" of the internets, all laws in existence need to have "on the web" appended to them so that the lawless hell-machines that sit in so many American's homes can finally be brought under control? Think of the children!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    indeed, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    Re: Okay, Uncle Sam, here's the deal

    Well said.

    There's only man who would dare give you raspberry....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    As with all government programs, the outcome is usually the opposite of intended. So, the claim that "there's no evidence that anti-bullying laws actually do anything at all to prevent or stop bullying" should be linked with the later line "but will be used to go after people that prosecutors don't like."

    There you go!

    Anti-bullying laws allow prosecutors to become bigger bullies! It doesn't stop bullying in schools, but allows the government agents to bully more people around.

    Just like anti-drug laws make it easier for kids in middle schools to get illegal drugs than alcohol.

    Just like red light cameras highly increase rear-end collisions at the expense of a slight decrease in t-bone collisions.

    Just like social welfare programs create a class of citizens dependent on hand-outs instead of helping them get back on their own feet.

    It's like some sort of bizarro Midas-touch, where instead of everything turning to gold, it turns into a Uwe Boll movie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Just Me, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    Just more gums flapping.

    As with most things, 20/20 hindsight just doesn't happen.

    Bullying is simply a manifestation of prejudice and the testing of authority. Those in the majority will always do it and most people will always look away when it happens.

    It's when critical mass is reached when bullying is no longer about maladjusted kids and becomes part of political activism. In this case, you see bullying but it's the lawyers and the professional victims who are engaging in bullying. The chest-beating jocks got the gal and diploma of entitlement back in high school/college and are now content with the status-quo.

    If you're just poking fun at the issue, you've probably found your own niche on the gravy train too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    DJ (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: PFPW

    Wait. So it's the PARENTS who are supposed to parent???
    might want to let parents around the country know that they're supposed to be raising their kids, not letting various government-funded agencies do it for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    DJ (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    Re:

    The problem with ALL laws in this country is not whether or not something is illegal.

    The problem is the punishment!!!!

    The only punishment for most committing crimes is to be forced to have three square gourmet meals a day, free cable TV, lots of exercise, and very little actual responsibility. Golly that sounds an awful lot like being a well-off kid; why would you NOT be a criminal!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re:

    "The only punishment for most committing crimes is to be forced to have three square gourmet meals a day, free cable TV, lots of exercise, and very little actual responsibility. Golly that sounds an awful lot like being a well-off kid; why would you NOT be a criminal!!!!"

    This is just a guess, but I'm going to go ahead and cast my vote for anal rape, Alex....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Belle de Monarch, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re:

    While I agree in part with Mike- 'But, in the last few years, the urge to overprotect has gone to ridiculous lengths, including various "anti-bullying" laws', iNtrigued makes a very important point. We don't really have the figures to say that laws don't appear to stop anyone - I mean who's going to put their hand up to say I thought about it but this & this stopped me - even if it saves ONE little one then well hey I'm up for laws that don't impact the lives of good people, and it also gives an underlying cultural understanding that says society ain't up with that behavior - sure Free Capitalist has a much more tasty way of dealing with a disgusting lowlife that would pick on a child different to others (or just someone in the wrong place at the wrong time) - personally if it was my child being bullied I'd be first in line to kick the culprit's ass til they cried for their mommy (or if it was their mommy then til she was on her knees begging for forgiveness - parents are just as bad these days), but 2 wrongs do not make a good example to one's kids. You're right Mike, applying a law will never solve a problem - there will always be lawbreakers, people who don't know of the law, people with a death wish etc, but if it isn't there in the first place, where does one learn about what's right and wrong if they have nothing to guide them; what does the social principle look like from where people make a call who don't have that aforementioned 'moral compass'...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Josh (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Stop saying...

    Mike, please don't say that these cyber bullying laws do nothing. You're giving the politicians too much credit.

    Please say that they make the problem worse because they don't stop bullying, but instead have unintended consequences. Depending on how they're written they could:

    - stop anonymous speech (and make it harder for those being bullied to speak out against the bully without fear of repercussion)
    - hurt freedom of speech/expression in other ways, such as political protest or consumer rights
    - open innocent people up to ridiculous lawsuits because they called someone a name online
    - further dilute the rule of law by making everyone criminals when they do perfectly reasonable things

    or more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Belle de Monarch, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Hey DJ - at least in America they GO to jail - try living in Australia where the crims get a high 5 from the judge for not letting on that the judge is in on the paedophile ring and the crim didn't dob! People get more time over here for unpaid parking fines than they do for rape, murder and/or other sexual offenses

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    I want a law against oppressively hot weather in the summer!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    DMNTD, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 4:19am

    well...

    From what it all comes down to...its a "law" so that if you need to, you can prosecute. That does not make me sleep any easier honestly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    iNtrigued (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That is pretty much what I was getting at, but I would also add that laws that say something is wrong and you shouldn't do it are good for those without other forms of guidance. However, if it starts to intrude into the people's rights as free Americans that is when problems arise(Nanny State). It is one thing to say "if you do 'X', then 'Y' will happen." It is something completely different when you say "you HAVE to do 'A,B,C' so we can prevent 'X' from happening." The gov't doesn't need to be part of telling us what to do, but what will happen if we do; although, even then there should be restrictions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    QUT student, Sep 16th, 2009 @ 5:20pm

    bullying...

    Hi there.

    we are currently studying social work and are researching cyber bullying within Australia and the government policies that exist (or dont exist) in relation to this. We have done a fair bit of research on the topic and are wanting to chat with other people around what if anything should be put in place to decrease the statisitics, and promote a safe environment on the internet etc.

    Should schools have individual polices in dealing with bullying through technology, or should there be a government intervention that all schools must be accountable too?

    If bullying is happening outside of school hours, does the school have an obligation to respond to it, or is this up to the parents of the young person?

    Should cyber bullying be a criminal offence?

    Im sure there are many other things we could ask, but this is enough to start us off.

    thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    Re: bullying...

    "Should schools have individual polices in dealing with bullying through technology, or should there be a government intervention that all schools must be accountable too?"

    No, both are addressed in current bullying laws and/or rules within government and schools. There is no reason that the introduction of the internet factor should require anything new.

    "If bullying is happening outside of school hours, does the school have an obligation to respond to it, or is this up to the parents of the young person?"

    Absolutely not. Schools are responsible for what happens within the school, not outside of it, save for a criminal action that physically endangers a student. Schools should be discouraged and perhaps punished for intruding on the lives of students off of school property.

    "Should cyber bullying be a criminal offence?"

    Yes, but only in so far as it should be a criminal offense to place the word "cyber" in front of other offenses we already have rules and laws for and then demand new legislation. Nothing new needs to be created.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    this is stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Izzy Kalman, Nov 9th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    anti-bully laws

    This is a great post. I have been warning for a decade that anti-bully laws will cause more harm than good.

    I tried to pull up the article you mention about proof that anti-bully laws are not working, but the article is no longer available. Would you possibly have a copy you can send me?

    Thanks,
    Izzy Kalman
    Director, Bullies to Buddies, Inc.
    www.Bullies2Buddies.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    anti-bully, Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Re: anti-bully laws

    Hey, Izzy! Fuck you, you stupid, namby-pamby goody-goody! You're nothing but self-righteous, whiny, delusional, hypocritical pacifist!

    You dare try to brainwash us into accepting bullies and think that you know everything? You don't know what you're typing.

    I don't know know what planet you were living on. People like you make me sick.

    People can be anti-bully all they want. If you so much as support bullying, then drop dead! You're nothin' but an ass who's full of shit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    anti-bully, Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 8:50pm

    Re:

    Well typed, fellow bully hater! You tell 'em!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    anti-bully, Jan 30th, 2010 @ 6:13pm

    Re:

    You have no idea what you just typed. Are you deluded or something? Do you want victims keep on being victims?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Pointing out obvious, Dec 9th, 2012 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: anti-bully laws

    Do you not realize that what you just said is considered bullying under these laws? Anti-bullying laws...can now file charges against you. What he is saying, and what you'd realize if you weren't so ignorant yourself is the government has no business in this...it is intact just a waste of money (surprise, it's the goverment) and another way for them to sensor you and restrict your first amendment rights. He is not condoning bullying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    anti-bully, Jun 25th, 2013 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: anti-bully laws

    I don't think that you have any idea how hypocritical you sound. Since when the hell can those laws file charges against me? Those are words on the Internet. And they deserve to be typed to Izzy because because he's insensitive and inconsiderate to victims because he's self-righteous Darwinist who thinks that all people deserve to be bullied.

    If you ask me, Izzy claims to be mean well. But his methods in teaching people on how to deal with bullies encourages them to let those antagonists walk all over them.

    I'm guessing that you suck up to Izzy, whose true colors in can sense. Beneath his professor-like exterior beats the heart of a devious and cowardly sycophant.

    If people can't defend themselves, then they should at least as the government to help them.

    Speaking of the government, it sounds to me that you want it to punish me for what I posted to him yet you claim that it shouldn't have anything to do with people who are victimized. Paranoid much?

    You're just as much of a hypocrite as Izzy is. One way is that you speak out of both sides of your mouth just as Izzy does with his.

    It's you and Izzy who are ignorant because you and him don't understand how bullied victims feel. Hell, Izzy should try his methods on hardcore bullies and see if they work. But if they don't, then he shouldn't be surprised to find himself in a hospital. After all, extreme bullies could use niceness as an excuse to take advantage of people.

    I'm proud to be one of those people are against bullies and their supporters like that damn Kalman. But if you insist on supporting and using his methods, then don't blame any bullies for sending you to a hospital.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Jun 25th, 2013 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Just more gums flapping.

    i don't think that you have any idea what you posted. therefore, i don't support you and your post 'cause i'm against bullying enough to want it gone forever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    anti-bully, Jun 28th, 2013 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: anti-bully laws

    I made a mistake when I forgot to add an a K to the "as" between "should" and "the" just as I made a mistake when I typed the "in" between "colors" and "can" when I meant to type "I." My apologies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This