State Senator Jeff Klein (D- Bronx/Westchester) and Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Queens) are working on legislation that hopes to bring an end to the epidemic of cyber bullying.
Yesterday, New York City Charter School Center, through a partnership with the senators, Kaitlin Monte, Miss New York 2011, and Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) administered a survey, “Click, Comment and Create Change,” to 3rd- and 4th-graders at the New Beginnings Charter School in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The senators will use the answers to the survey to gather data that will help form the legislation to crack down on the problem of online bullying.
In addition to the Brooklyn charter school, the group also toured two other charter schools in Manhattan (Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation) and Queens (Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights) to administer the questionnaire.
The move to draft a bill comes in the wake of a suicide earlier this year by Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old Buffalo resident and a victim of cyber bullying.
Adams, Klein, Monte and Perry Aftab, a leading expert in cybercrime in the U.S., who advises Facebook, Nickelodeon and other leading corporations, all spoke to the group of about 40 or so 8- to 10-year-olds about the problems of excessive online chatter and the role they can play as young leaders in advising their peers about proper cyber etiquette.
There are several benefits gleaned from starting cyber etiquette education young. Also, from talking to the young students, many adults where shocked to learn just how many elementary school children had Facebook accounts – minimum required age to sign up for Facebook is 18 – but more importantly, how so few parents monitor their children's accounts.
When asked, teachers, administrators and students unanimously agreed: Parents should play the biggest role in guiding their child’s online activity, particularly since, outside of the classroom, the Internet has become for children the second most influential learning environment.
So the children have been asked to take the lead in changing they way they view and use the Internet. They were encouraged to talk to their peers and advise their parents. Legislators will gather the answers to the questionnaire to guide the way they formulate a bill that will address inappropriate and pernicious online chatter.
Finally, New York legislators are talking about the perils of the Internet when used unregulated and its effect on the behaviors of children.
It’s just too bad they had to start with the children, who have now been tasked with educating their parents.