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MIAMI – (CBS4) – Bullies are expanding their reach as more and more of them turn to popular social networking sites or trade insults over text messaging as a way to threaten their victims.

“It’s really almost an epidemic because it’s become the new place in which to bully someone,” said State Representative Dwight Bullard, a Democrat who represents district 118. He also works as a teacher and said he has witnessed the problem.

“It’s no longer a matter of pushing someone in the hallway,” he said. “It’s not a matter of sending a note leaving it in a locker. Now, students are using this technology to embarrass to make fun of and to destroy the morale of their fellow students.”

That is why Bullard introduced House Bill 213, known as the anti-bullying bill. In 2008, the state passed a law against cyber bullying after a student suicide was blamed on bullying. Bullard argues that the law doesn’t go far enough to protect victims because the law only punishes bullies who use school computers.

His proposed bill would be more wide-reaching at curbing cyber bullying — a problem that concerns most parents like Sandra Veintemilla.

“It’s very, very worrisome especially if I don’t know it’s happening to my kids,” she said. “I mean I wish they would open up more to us because they could really get hurt.”

Veintemilla enrolled her son in a Kung-Fu class to try and protect him from bullies. But that won’t protect him from cyber bullying.

“We could go back to so many cases in the recent years, a girl committing suicide because of texting, Facebook, getting comments,” she recalled. “It’s just a lot of problems with that also.”

There are already laws that govern physical and psychological bullying. But House Bill 213 would also give legal reprise to cyber bullying.

“Under the legislation now, the schools would have an opportunity to put that person on a disciplinary track,” said Rep. Bullard. “One that leads to expulsion or further discipline within the school system.”

Legislators in the state senate are also introducing a similar bill.


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