Bill requires schools to define cyberbullying

8:58 PM, Oct 14, 2013   |    comments
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- State lawmakers are pushing for answers against a new form of bullying and it starts with asking a question: what is cyberbullying?

Under new legislation, schools would be required to define cyberbullying in anti-bullying school policies.

Holland High School principal, Deb Feenstra walks through the halls of school with eyes and ears open to make sure students are safe. Now she's facing a new threat that can't always be seen or heard. There's a victim and a bully, but she says it's not easy to know who is who.

"It's an interaction that maybe started in the hallway and now I have a response online to it, but I'm not sure what came first," says Feenstra.

Under new legislation, all schools would be required to define cyberbullying and include it in anti-bullying policies.

"We need a common language of what does that mean, because right now it means all kinds of things to all kinds of people," says Feenstra.

While social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked on the school network, school leaders encourage a different type of social media, called Edmodo.

"It takes the positive qualities of Facebook and lets you use them with a group of students," says Dave Bast, a technology integrative specialist at Holland High School. "Schools have to look at how you can use social media in a positive way."

The new legislation would also require schools to report incidents of cyberbullying to the state department of education. Local school leaders say that would be an added challenge, because of a long list of state requirements already in place.

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