Cyberbullying forum focuses on protecting kids on the InternetIn the wake of high-profile incidents across the country involving cyberbullying and cyberstalking, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar convened a public forum at Augsburg College to gather the views of Minnesotans on “Protecting Children and Youth in an Online World.”
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
MINNEAPOLIS – In the wake of high-profile incidents across the country involving cyberbullying and cyberstalking, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar convened a public forum at Augsburg College to gather the views of Minnesotans on “Protecting Children and Youth in an Online World.”
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 93 percent of American teens between ages 12 and 17 were online, as of September 2009. Nearly three-quarters of these teens used an online social networking website. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43 percent of teenagers say they have been victims of cyberbullying.
“In the hands of a bully or a stalker, a computer connected to the Internet is a dangerous, even deadly, weapon,” said Klobuchar. “A bully who prowls the schoolyard is bad enough. But a bully on the Internet has the whole world as his schoolyard.”
Klobuchar serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over criminal justice and privacy issues. She also serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications issues.
“New technology is complicating the way we respond to age-old problems,” Klobuchar said. “Stalking isn’t new, harassment isn’t new and bullying isn’t new. But through the Internet, hateful comments, videos and pictures can be spread instantaneously to an unlimited number of people. The damage these acts can cause is multiplied, and even harder to erase.”
Klobuchar, who served as chief prosecutor in Hennepin County for eight years, is Senate author of the “STALKERS Act,” bipartisan legislation to strengthen and update federal anti-stalking laws to protect victims and provide law enforcement with the necessary tools to address the new challenges of cyberstalking.
Klobuchar is also a cosponsor of legislation that would require public elementary and secondary schools to have policies on bullying, with steps to prevent and respond to it. She said legislation may also be introduced soon with the same requirement for colleges and universities.
Klobuchar said that, in addition to new laws, an effective and comprehensive response to offensive behavior on the Internet will require efforts by parents, schools, businesses and young people themselves.
Panelists at the forum with Klobuchar included:
--Nicole Jackson Colaco, Public Policy Manager, Facebook
--Brian Hill, computer forensics investigator with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
--Lynn Miland, of Northfield, the parent of a child who was bullied and now a parent advocate with the National Center for Bullying Prevention, which is affiliated with Minnesota-based PACER Center
--Shayla Thiel Stern, assistant professor, University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and author of Instant Identity: Adolescent Girls and the World of Instant Messaging