Bullying: Is there an end in sight?
Thu, 15 Dec 2011 23:45:30 GMT — In the last few months cases of teen suicide have made headlines across the country, the victims were bullied. Now many states are taking a closer look at the issue including here in Missouri. Some parents in the show-me state are trying to get a national anti-bullying law passed. Bullying has been a problem for decades but now with social media sites it has taken on a whole new life. A lot of the times the targets are young adults who are open about their sexual orientation. 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide in September after he was reportedly bullied for being gay. His death drew national attention, including commentary from Lady Gaga over the loss of another promising life to bullying. Later that same month Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University, jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and another student allegedly used a web-cam to record and live-stream Clementi kissing another male in his dorm room. "When I was growing up they called you a name, now the world hears about it, that's the power of the internet," Clementi's father Joe Clementi said. "We don't know why Tyler committed suicide, all only know is his alleged invasion of his privacy and how he reached out to the RA's and how text a friend that he was upset by that," Clementi's mother, Jane Clementi said. Parents across the country, and here in Missouri, are calling for action. They want national anti-bullying legislation that defines specific categories of at-risk students - those targeted for being bullied because of their religion or disability, or for being gay or lesbian. "One out of ten students who drop out of high school in America say that they did it because of repeated bullying and harassment, St. Charles Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Jill Aul said. Having a law like this and providing training to schools to enact it and enforce it, is only going to have positive ramifications all over our country, in every area." Aul said identifying specific areas in which youth are at higher risk of harassment should help schools better protect and educate every student. "Research is extensive, all over the place, that LGBT students are picked on and experience harassment, and bullying, and violence so much more than the general student population. It's not giving them special rights - it's giving them equal rights," Aul said. Aul said fewer than a dozen states define categories in their anti-bullying laws, including New York and North Carolina. Missouri has unsuccessfully tried several times to pass such a bill. Anti-bullying legislation generally falls under the department of education, and some GOP lawmakers are looking to eliminate that department. Opponents of the bills also say defining categories does not provide equal protection for all students. Earlier this week Facebook announced a suicide prevention service which will allow users to tag posts which they believe show someone is having suicidal thoughts.