New law designed to help prevent cyber bullying, youth suicides

Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 4:07 PM CDT
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Technology is a part of nearly every classroom, and nearly every kid spends time on a computer, phone, or tablet daily. Now a new law in

Missouri requires school districts to take extra steps to prevent bullying, especially online.

"Those students who have a lot of challenging issues in their lives, who are already feeling vulnerable for whatever reason, are more at risk, and those are the targets," said Springfield Public Schools counselor Rhonda Mammen.

Mammen sees the darker side of those technological advancements with cases of cyber bullying.

"There's some data that shows us there have been students that have harmed themselves, committed suicide because of the bullying that occurs toward them," she said.

Name calling, even threats, online can quickly escalate. Now a new state law calls on every public school to put a curriculum in place to tackle those issues head on with the goal of prevention.

"We work on that from a very young age," Mammen said.

It is something multiple school districts across the Ozarks already do.

In Springfield, educators teach lessons in elementary schools on how to get along, be positive, and be problem solvers, as well as the consequences of cyber bullying.

"The legislation will force us to take a look at that again to see if we're doing everything we can in order to meet the guidelines," she said.

Missouri schools have until 2018 to implement suicide prevention and cyber bullying policies. The law also directs the state department of education to develop training materials on the issue.