There Ought To Be A Law… Any Law… To Protect The Children

from the yes,-but-will-it-do-any-good? dept

We’ve all heard the old saying that to someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It’s often been modified to say that, to a politician, everything looks like it needs a law or a tax. In fact, it’s often worse with politicians, because not only is legislating what they know how to do, they’re often judged on what kinds of laws they pass — preferably in some sort of misleading soundbite fashion. This leads politicians to take a we gotta do something approach to lawmaking — rather than a “can we do something to make this better, or will it simply make things worse?” approach. On top of that, unlike businesses, once a law is passed, there’s rarely any attempt to check on it to see if it actually did help solve what it was trying to solve and there’s almost never any kind of plan B if the original law doesn’t work out. This situation gets even worse when the issue involves children — because politicians love to claim they’re doing something to protect the children. So, with that in mind, it’s perhaps not at all surprising that a new “task force” on cyberbullying is out there claiming that Congress must do something about cyberbullying. What is that something? Well, that part doesn’t seem too clear. So far, about the only suggestion seems to focus on increased funding for bullying and harassment prevention programs. What programs? Do they work? Who knows? Who cares! We’re passing a law! It’s absolutely true that cyberbullying can be painful for kids — and it would be great if there were a way to minimize it (or minimize the impact of it). However, a legal approach to trying to solve bullying seems about as likely to work as having Spider Man tell kids to stop bullying (both of which have been tried). In other words, it’s not going to have much of an impact, but laws still need to be passed and taxes still need to be assessed. Perhaps that’s the solution: they should put in place a tax for cyberbullies. Either that or maybe they can just buy kids a copy of the new Bully video game.

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Comments on “There Ought To Be A Law… Any Law… To Protect The Children”

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Anonymous Coward says:

what a load of bs… cyberbullying? that’s an offense to anyone who was ever actually bullied around… if people can’t handle some mean stuff said about them online, they need to end it now… flaming and a general harassment of words is what makes up about 70-80% of the non-porn aspect of the internet… c’mon people… get real… the more I find out about the ineptitude of our politicians the more it makes me want to become a resident of another country… for real, I watched a “the internet and child saftey” hearing on one of the cnn channels and not one senator had any clue what was being said to them. Multiple times they reasked questions that had already been addressed, while the people responding got a glazed look from whomever posed the question to begin with. It’s a joke… the people who voted for these shmucks must not witness them in any kind of public or public accessible forum.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: offense to real bullying

Well, AC, consider the sort of people that would be most hurt by cyberbullying.. perhaps kids who have moved their emotional emphasis online after having less than complete success socializing IRL.

I agree that cyberbullying is, in absolute terms, pretty pathetic compared to IRL bullying, but to those who are going to be hurt by it, it can be devastating.

Rick says:

Only One Option

The best law to ‘protect the children’ would actually need to be a constitutional amendment worded something like thisz:

“Congress shall make no law infringing on the rights of parents to raise and protect their children. Congress shall protect the rights of parents to do their own parenting and do no more than enforce such parental responsibilities.”

I don’t pay taxes to babysit your kids. I don’t need or want the government to babysit my kids.

Parents who refuse or who are unable to raise their own kids should be fined, imprisoned or both. Children who commit crimes under 18 need to serve their time and/or be punished WITH their parents, who should have paid more attention. Parents need to be responsible, before the children and for the children.

Enough said.

Chris says:

Re: Only One Option

You haven’t thought about this very much. Since I am a teenager I know what kids are thinking when they go off and do something that MOST of them know is wrong. However the problem is that we hate being told what to do and we tend to rebel from rules and do whatever we want. Of course there are kids (like me) who tend to follow the rules and try to be a good role model for other kids, but they are still rebelious, suffering from some STD…. sorry, it’s STI now (stupid PC-ness) or problems with parents, or breaking up with a boy/girlfriend. All this play into what kids do and why they do it. Why punish the parents when they try and do all that they can to make sure that their children do what is right. Now there are the parrents that don’t care about their kids and they just had them with another girl that they slept with and forgot her name when they woke up in the morning. Yes, those kids generally are more rebellious but all teenagers do go through a stage of rebellion, even you did. And how much money do you think it will cost to build the extra jails and detention centers they will need for the kids and their parents, and the cost to maintain and staff those buildings? And we can’t forget the time The Congress could actually be doing somthing worthwhile rather than trying to ban comercially run sites from schools and trying to protect us. Listen to me! WE DON’T NEED YOUR PROTECTION!!!!!

We are called young adults, but we get treated like crap, we can’t make our own decisions, have a bank account, have a job, or any of that without our parents ok and all that red tape crap. You want to protect us? You can’t because the laws that are already in place to protect us (No sex with a minor, minors cannot have a bank account, minors can not have a drivers license untill one year after they received their permit) and all that just push more and more teens to break those laws and get ourselves into more “danger”

Kilroy says:

Re: Re: Only One Option

Of course we could begin by teaching our children about consequences of their actions. Part of the problem with today’s youths is they are not held accountable for their actions. They are not failed when they do not learn the required criteria; they are not beaten when they act inapropriately and cause dangeruos situations; they are not jailed (and jails are not uncomfortable or unpalletable enough) when they disregard the law of the land.

If the consequences of being irresponsible were more dire, would people be so willing to disregard the rules? Maybe – just the sociopaths.

Nic Stevens says:

Re: Only One Option

I was a problem child. I did bad things. I did time for the bad things. My parents did what they could to prevent me from doing these things but in the end they couldn’t control me.

Should they have been jailed because of something *I* did? No. They did have to pay for my incarceration and make restitution.

Sometimes children exceed the ability of otherwise good parents to deal with them.

This is not to say parents should be excused from parenting. On the contrary parents should be held to a much higher standard than that of biological material donor.

John Q Public says:

bs political crap

more political crap; did anyone read the links? Parents this, parents that …. just a bunch of facists looking for more control over people.

let them protect you from “this” and tomorrow its something else, give them what they want and you won’t be free to do anything at all

“If you have been ‘cyberbullied’ tell an adult” F that, flame them back, its the internet.

hey Chris, don’t try to be a good role model to other kids, just do your best at whatever you do and look out for yourself, because no one else will. The people who say they want to arent’ in it for “your own good,” they are ususally overcompensating for something in their past (like thinking everyone treated them like crap when they were young — really).

Mickey Knox says:

Re: Techdirt's childlike anti-legislation attitude

Honestly, please. Saying that the techdirt staff is a “silicon valley bachelor’s” in an attempt to discredit their opinions is akin to calling race into the question on property rights.

Even if they are bachelors… you have no right to assume that they are not qualified to take a stance on the position. Perhaps, they are qualified simply on the basis that they are taxpayers that don’t want to pay to raise somebody else’s kids.

I am a parent and honestly I agree with them. Parents need to take responsibility for their kids. TEACH your kids about the world and how to make decisions for themselves. TEACH them morals… and you won’t have any problems. Smack their hand and tell them no… and you run into issues down the road. Let them do anything they want to… and run into problems down the road. Simply put: GOVERNMENT HAS NO PLACE IN THIS.

The government needs to stick to legislating things that would be affected by the tragedy of the commons. The FCC belongs in government. The FAA belongs in government. Beyond that… it begins to get sketchy. I don’t need the police to tell me how fast I can drive. I don’t need congress to say who can and can’t get “married.” I don’t need congress to tell me what I’m allowed to do with a piece of intellectual “property” … finally… I don’t need congress to raise my kids for me.

America has seen it’s budget spiral out of control in the last hundred years. We need to bring things back in line. Stop legislating behavior and start legislating for utilitarian purposes. Unless it will directly provide a good… it doesn’t need a law. Can’t prove that it did good? The law is revoked.

Sasha says:

protecting our kids

Atleast with the internet parents can have a control over that…should they chose. My concern is the lack of protection from bullying the kids have at public schools. Even after the many shooting incidents at schools, teachers don’t stop the name calling etc “because it stops freedom of speech”. What happened to the bullied childs right to protection at school?

stueycaster says:

How can someone get cyberbullied?

All of the chat servers that I have used have a feature that will block a user that is being offensive. When you block this person then the server won’t allow anything this user says to come into your computer. This works with instant messaging and in chat rooms. If someone sends you e-mail that is bullying just delete all the messages they send. Nobody in the world could possibly bully me online because I would never allow it. I really don’t understand how someone can be cyberbullied.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How can someone get cyberbullied?

No, the problem is not anonymous bullying.

Its the ability of a physical real world bully to take his art to the next level by being able to reach his victim 24×7 in order to break him.

You can turn off your computer all you want (hermits rarely get bullied) but thats not going to help you keep in touch with the real world, nor does it actually solve the problem, but it might displace it.

Jus tlike all other forms of bullying, we need those being bullied to stand up for themselves, and turn in those that are bullying them. Be it letting their parents know they are getting 30-40 death threats on their cell phones a day, or IM’s saying they are going to smack the **** out of them or whatnot.

The fact that the bully is now able to reach and traumatize his victims more often then before is the only enhancement to the age old problem of bullying. He can do it a little more anonymously too, but usually they have no incentive to be anonymous. That won’t lead them to their goals. Anonyminity would defeat the whole purpose of bullying.

Anonymous of Course says:


The definition of Bullying has changed. It used to be

a bloody nose, torn shirt, and your math test with an

A+ grade ground into the mud.

Now it’s “hurtful” speech on Teh Intarweb.

God, do these beltway buffoons have NOTHING better

to do than spend our tax dollars on their inane hearings?

Pressing issues like crime, poverty and national security

seem to be worsened by their kind attention.

I must conclude that this issue is a ruse, a distraction,

something to keep us all spinning in little eddys and back

currents while wasting our time and energy.

Another non-problem, non-issue, that they can pass some

do-nothing legislation about then and all go home to the

electorate and claim to be working hard in their best


In truth most of them wouldn’t touch a real issue unless

compelled by red hot pliers applied to their lard-filled


ForkBoySpam says:

You know.....

I may just be getting old, but I remember a time when working through incidents of “bullying” built character and made you a stronger person. I think it was a form of conflict resolution, and in some instances gave you what was called “thick skin”. Granted one may not have always made the best choice in the name of conflict resolution, but isn’t making mistakes and learning from them a part of building character as well? If we take away or legislate every potentially harmful event in our children’s lives how will they ever learn to stand on thier own?

On a side note I have to give mad props (is that the term the kids are using?) to Chris. It’s nice to hear a thoughful response from someone the issue is so closely concerning.

Lion XL says:

I get bullied everyday.....

Don’t know bout yoiu guys but I get bullied every day…

stupid spammers are trying to bully me into buying some junk I don’t need…;)

but honestly…I never understood the cyber-bullying concept until someone above pointed out how effective a simple e-mail/chat room flood type of attack would be pretty disturbing (specially if its on a cell phone)…but…I think we need to work to make existing laws work better rather than keep throwing single solution laws at consumers that don’t get enforced anyway….

I mean bullying is bullying and harassment is harrassment, use those to prosecute the bulliers….and the part about the parents being responsible is very touchy…in some cases they are, but not always….

fuggedaboudit says:

our benevolent protector...(chancellor)

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. – C. S. Lewis

Anonymous Coward says:

> How about a law making parents responsible for what their kids do online?

How about a law making parents responsible for what their kids do offline? Bullying in the real world is what hurts the children. Charge the bullies with assult and stalking, and make the parents pay heavy fines. That will stopy bullying overnight because a parent hit with a $2000 fine will take it out of his kid’s a$$.

Lay Person says:

I don't know...

I don’t know…

I grew up in the 70’s, we had bullys. Guess what? We had to confront bullys physically. Some you win some you lose. But adults were rarely involved. These things occured in secluded crosswalks or behind the Tasty Freeze icecream shop.

In any event, what is wrong with bullies? As far as I know I still deal with bullies even in business. You know, all that confrontation makes a person strong and unafraid. Yeah it was stressful but so were girls, sex, homework and football practice. Growing up is supposed to hurt that’s how we know we’re growing. No pain-no gain. Anyway, my point is, we need to stop turning our kids into wimpering pussies!

Let them fight, let them work things out. If something really needs to be done, teach the pussies how to fight. There is no solution to burying ones head in the sand. Life will roll over you before you know what did it.

If you want soemthing to be done for the children, how about spending a little time to raise them properly. To know when to defend yourself, to know that principles and values are all that a person really has in life that matter. Not every solution lies in the law but amongst people.

When is our society going to realize that the government is not the answer to a family, home, or a neighborhood but that people are.

MikeT (user link) says:

Blame the schools

They’re the ones that worked long and hard to take away the right of self-defense because it’s just too much of a burden to sort out whether or not someone was defending themselves. When my dad was a boy in the 50s, if a bully attacked you, you could legally whip his ass in front of the entire school and nothing would come of it except the bully getting taken to the principal’s office, bloodied up to have that dreaded phone call with mom and dad (who would whip his bullying ass when he got home.)

Violence against bullies works! I know from personal experience. When I was in elementary school, a kid kept bullying me and one day he and I were on the playground on a playground set that was about 5-6 feet off the ground. He started his crap and I grabbed him and slammed him up against the wood wall and told him that I’d throw him over the side if he didn’t leave me alone. Guess what? Mr. Bully kept away from me because someone made it clear that he’d face the consequences.

If American schools hadn’t adopted the weak, effeminate attitude “violence never solves anything,” most of this would never happen. Bullying is a problem now because bullies know that if they are really slick about how they do it, they can get away with it. That’s why girls face such a hard time. A male bully may get ambushed outside of school and beaten up, but girls don’t do that (yet). The schools are responsible for this with their zero tolerance policies. The government should instead be providing sovereign immunity to all schools when they allow students to fight back in self-defense.

Mr. Doubtfire says:

I remember the days of walking home from school, reaching the dreaded “trail” where practically all school fights took place. That blasted trail was the only way I could get home.

I was 11 or 12 and scrawny as all hell. I had very little self-confidence if any at all because my mother was a very violent and angry person. Dad of course was gone.

The fear/stress/dread that takes place inside a kid who has to walk home and is afraid of what will happen is horrible.

It’s enough to drive a kid into doing something crazy like… bringing a gun to school! Sound familiar?

How to deal with it? Brains over braun.

Lay Person says:

Re: #31

Sorry to hear about your childhood…I had a dad so I cannot completely understand…but he was hardly there when it mattered because he was always working.

In any case, I knew very well that feeling. Point is, my parents were responsible enough to not let me get to the firearms. In fact my dads friend is the one who put the fear of god in me and taught me to respect firearms. At the ripe old age of 8. In fact hunting teaches one to respect life more than any other activity. If for any other reason, I understood that once a life was taken, there is no reversing it.

Just because someone possesses a gun doesn’t mean they know how to use it or respect it. Same as any other tool.

My point is that chances are you probably didn’t have access to a gun, or more so, you didn’t use it. I had more devious ideas. I would use a blow dart which I was very skilled at using. I would hide in the bushes, then when the bully crossed my path, Wham, I’d blow a six inch long bolt right in the ass!

I never did follow through though. That is my point, we had enough fear to carryout said revenge but we never did. Why, because our parents, with all their flaws, raised us properly enough to stay out of prison.

rodno says:


[On ancient Athens]: In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. – Edward Gibbon

Rondo says:

In the Middle, but up a little on the chart

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another. – Milton Friedman

Ron Don't! says:

OK I'm done

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. – Ronald Reagan (1986)

What happended Ron? Rush? George? Newt?

You promised to shrink the size of government!

It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. – Charles A. Beard

I found these and more at:

Freedom!! – no, really Freedom and Liberty, but the real kind, not what the bastards in D.C. claimi our guys are fighting for.. lead by example, not force!!

Fart Knocker says:

Re: Re: OK I'm done

Yeah!.. take some time to come up with ur own thoughts.

I do like the Libertarian stuff, tho’ – it’s a good reminder that we’re getting closer to losing the basic freedoms because we expect “Uncle Sam” to take care of all our troubles (think about why the name came about in the first place, so satiate us by anthropomorphising the big machine.

It almost fits here, Rondo.. take care m8

Rondo (piss yu doo name) says:

Re: Re: Re: OK I'm done

You all are behotches!

Not really, just trying to fit in on the interwebneterfamiizer

Yes, sorry, I’m a bit of an introvert and my ideas are so convoluted that I’m lucky to get any point across at all. I therefore, rely on more eloquent, authoritative folks to pass along the message of liberty, ‘for ourselves and our posterity’…. Hopefully someone today was touched by something and takes one step further into the abyss with me to the land of the politically homeless.

May your house be blessed with arms a plenty and praise be to the giant spaggeti monster.


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