The Senate is advancing a bullying bill, inspired by a Polk County girl’s suicide, and would make it a second degree misdemeanor penalty for bullying and a first degree misdemeanor for aggravated bullying, with cyber-bullying falling under the definition. With this bill, it would include activity where an individual “willfully, maliciously and repeatedly harasses or cyber-bullies” another, they could face up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine.
Bullying and the prevention of it has become a major focus in our schools today. Bullies are no longer limited to just verbal or physical bullying. Text and online bullying have become a serious problem among adolescents and teens. According to School bullying statistics in the United States:
- About one in four kids in the U.S. are bullied on a regular basis.
- Almost 9 out of 10 teens have a cell phone, and about 1 in 5 will be victims of a text bully. Text bullying has become more common than traditional bullying, especially among girls.
- More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.
- More than 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
As a result of the increase in bullying, many mobile apps have been developed to help parents protect their children from bullying and to create awareness around the problem. Below is a list of these types of apps compiled by AT&T:
- BullyBlock – (Android – FREE) – This app captures and block bullies that are causing you and your family harm. The Bully Block app allows users to covertly record verbal threats and harassment, block inappropriate texts and pictures (e.g. sexting), and utilize auto respond features. Bully Block blocks bullies that utilize private or unknown numbers to engage in cyberbullying. Bully Block also has instant reporting features that allow the user to email or text abusive behavior to parents, teachers, HR departments, and law enforcement. All audio, messages, and calls are stored on the phone SD card.
- TipSubmitMobile – ( Apple iOS, Android – FREE) – TipSubmit Mobile allows tipsters to submit secure and anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers, law enforcement agencies or school safety officers and administrators. Thousands of communities, schools and government agencies are covered by this application since it connects directly with TipSoft, the world’s largest and North America’s only, truly anonymous tip reporting system. Tipsters could receive rewards of up to $1,000 in the U.S. and up to $2,000 in Canada for information submitted to Crime Stoppers and nobody will ever know your identity.
- Bully Stop (Android – FREE) – This app helps protect your children from bully calls, texts and picture messages. The app gives your children the ability to block calls and messages from people they don’t want to hear from. Bully Stop uses a Block List to block unwanted callers and texters. The app maintains a password-protected call log of all attempted contact with your child so you can approach the relevant people, parents, teachers or police and show proof of the bullying communication.
- Bully Button – (Apple iOS – $0.99) – This application is for helping when the user is in trouble. It lets them record and send an email with audio attachment with text by tapping “Record and Send” button. Children can call a parent, friend or school by selecting appropriate options.
CrimeStoppers of Tampa Bay has an anonymous service in which you or your child may submit a report regarding school issues, including bullying.
Have your children ever dealt with bullying? What advice have you given them?
Editor’s Note: Tampa Bay Moms Blog would like to thank Karen McAllister of AT&T Public Relations | Florida for contributing to this article.