Online Bullying, Pervasive to Kids, Is Hidden From Parents, Schools

Nearly 4,700 cases of online bullying, harassment and intimidation were reported by Maryland schools last academic year, creating a vexing problem for parents and schools to police, reports the Baltimore Sun. The harassment and intimidation is pervasive, inescapable to a generation tied to the Internet. Yet most of it happens out of view of parents.

Unlike traditional schoolyard teasing, cyber-bullying can take place 24 hours a day, and often happens off school grounds, making it difficult for school officials to track. And because discipline is left to local school officials, it varies across Maryland and is considered too subjective to some parents and teachers. The consequences of cyber-bullying resounded in Maryland after the Easter Sunday suicide of 15-year-old Grace McComas. Her parents said the high school sophomore took her life after months of being victimized online. “This incident underscores the 21st-century bully, equipped with a cell phone and a Facebook account, is a constant source of torment for our kids,” said New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono, lead sponsor on anti-bullying legislation there. The state’s law, considered to be the most progressive in the country, requires all schools to have an in-house anti-bullying specialist.

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