State Rep. wants to strengthen Okla. bullying laws

OKLAHOMA CITY – In the old days, bullies were secluded to the hallways and locker sections of schools, intimidating their victims face to face.

Now, with technology bullies are becoming more and more present in cyberspace.

Though one legislator is working to target those so-called “cyber bullies” with House Bill 2278.

“They can’t get away from their bully,” Rep. Anastasia Pittman said. “When they turn on their computer it’s in their email, it’s in electronic form, it’s in a text message.”

Rep. Pittman has authored legislation to amend our state’s current School Bullying Prevention Act to include those in cyberspace.

Pittman said, “Kids have smartphones, they have Facebook and the bullies don’t go anywhere.”

Students we found said they agree.

“Cyber-bullying is a really dangerous, scary thing,” High school student Dylan Cook said. “There’s no way you can really stop it if it starts. You can try to block the person and stuff like that.”

High schooler Teneille Kline said, “With Facebook and Twitter and stuff if one person says something it’s out and it gets blown up into something huge.”

If passed, House Bill 2278 would amend our state’s current law regarding bullying to include cyber bullies; Pittman said it would strengthen the current law as well.

Pittman said, “It just says you have to create a plan and gives each school flexibility to create their own plan.”

Pittman’s bill would amend the law to require school employees to report reliable information on harassment and bullying immediately.

It would also require school officials to contact the accused bully’s parents.

Pittman said the goal of the measure is to keep Oklahoma students safe.

She said, “We’ve got to stop it; our schools are supposed to be a safe place, our homes are supposed to be a safe place and that’s the intent of this bill.”

The measure would also establish a procedure for school’s to document and investigate bullying or harassment reports.

They would also have to track the consequences or disciplinary actions taken in each case.