Bullying: Law Enforcement’s Role

by Brittany Shannon on October 27, 2010 at 6:34 am

If a kid should choose to bully, the consequences can be harsh, and with good reason. We spoke with local law enforcement officials who want kids to understand that making that choice to hurt others can come back and affect their own futures.

Phoebe Prince is just one name in a list of constantly-bullied teens who have gone on to take their own lives. Those responsible for the bullying leading up to her death have been held accountable and a series of bullying-related suicides have sparked a string of anti-bullying laws in 45 states, including Ohio.

Here, law enforcement officials are trying to put a stop to bullying.

"We just need to try to educate the people the best we can so that they understand what the consequences are if they do this," says Deputy Sheriff David Barnes of the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office.

Such consequences can include anything from stalking charges to harassment and menacing charges.

"When it comes to doing something that someone else suffers from, is where we cross that line," says Sheriff Matt Lutz.

Ohio has laws in place to educate school officials and kids about bullying, but Sheriff Lutz says a lot of it can be controlled in the home.

"The best advice that we give is for parents to get involved in their kids’ lives."

He also wants to remind kids to think twice before sending a potentially harmful message.

"If you go to hit the submit button, or the send button on a phone or a computer, if you think twice about how you would feel if that was sent out, then I think that would change your mind about sending it," warns Sheriff Lutz.

In order to deter potential bullies and prevent cyberbullying from taking place, Ohio schools can monitor kids’ computer records. The state is also working to pass a bill that would give schools the ability to punish cyberbullying that takes place both on and off school property.