To combat cyberbullying in Delaware’s schools, Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Attorney General Beau Biden came together to host one of three public hearings on the subject in order to create a solid statewide policy.
New Castle County educators, school administrators and community members were the first to present their concerns. Many of them questioned the definition of cyberbullying, freedom of speech limits and the school’s jurisdiction to address such matter. According to Assistant Principal Andrew McMullen, Delcastle Tech High School sees about two cyberbullying cases a month. McMullen even says that few of them happen or take place on school grounds. However, Tuesday’s hearing served as an example of why the goal is to also pass legislation designed to help school districts better enforce the new policy when it’s developed.
“We need to fight cyberbullying aggressively but also thoughtfully,” said Lt. Governor Denn. “Around the country, schools have been sued when trying to enforce cyberbullying policies and even here in Delaware. The one school district that attempted to implemented a cyberbullying policy was threatened with litigation. This approach, where we gather the facts first, write a policy based on those fact, and then stand behind the policy with the full force of our Attorney General’s office, will give us the best chance to deal with this growing problem.”
“Thanks to constant communication and social networking, there is no such thing as a ‘schoolyard bully’ anymore,” said Attorney General Biden. “Kids who face bullies face them all the time, at home, at school, and everywhere in between. For schools to be safe places that children deserve, they must be able to effectively fight bullying that may originate off school grounds, but follows its victims 24 hours a day.”
The next public hearing on cyberbullying will take place April 24th at the Sussex County Administrative Building in Georgetown. Dover will hosts the last meeting April 25th at the Kent County Levy Court Chamber.