The efficacy of these laws is questionable. There are already laws that protect people from harassment which is what bullying is and more laws don’t necessarily improve enforcement. But if someone wants to get involved, find out what laws are on the dockets and call their legislators.
Can you comment on why laws and policies in states and schools are important?
They provide a framework through which victims can seek support and restitution for damage caused by the bullying.
How can people spread awareness and education about the topic?
The first step is to educate yourself. What works to get bullying to stop. Most people have no idea so they propose solutions they think will work but won’t. If we are going to be successful, the first step is to find out what science says works. If we want to stop a behavior, we have to use behavioral science to do it. Everything else – is guessing.
What should parents do to protect their children from cyberbullying (without taking away privacy or freedom)?
Have conversations about what is acceptable online and what isn’t. What to do if they encounter someone who is bullying. How to collect evidence and support in reporting. Depending on the age of the child, monitoring what they do is not a bad thing. We monitor what food they eat and what shows they watch on tv. We do this to help them learn good habits and to help them understand and contextualize what they are seeing. The same goes for electronic devices. We don’t want our kids victimized and we don’t want our kids to bully others. That requires some oversight and monitoring until trust is established.
Mostly though – parents need good communication with their kids so that if they encounter a problem, their first instinct is to seek out help from their parents. Because with bullying it’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when. Our kids will be exposed to it. It’s how they respond that makes the difference. Almost all kids need help learning the skills to shut unwanted behavior down. If the parent doesn’t know how to stop unwanted behavior effectively they won’t be able to help their kids learn it. In most cases, parents need to learn what actually works to stop bullying behavior in order to be effective at helping their kids. And again, this is a behavioral problem that requires a behavioral solution.