KUSA - From the State Capitol hearing room, to the chat room, to the classroom, cyber bullying is a real problem legislators and administrators are trying to solve. It's a complicated issue with no easy solution.
"Cyber bullying is complex and difficult," said Dr. Marla Bonds, bullying prevention coordinator for Cherry Creek Public Schools. "I really think it takes a community response. I think it takes parents working with schools in order for us to get a handle on this."
Bonds has been working to minimize all kinds of bullying in Cherry Creek Schools for 20 years. She says Cyber bullying has become an increasing problem with the proliferation of social media.
"It started out slower and now we've got elementary kids getting cell phones with cameras that they don't have the skills to manage," Bonds said.
The Cherry Creek School District has a clear cyber bullying policy. Monday, lawmakers gave initial approval to a proposal make some forms of cyber bullying a misdemeanor crime under the current harassment laws.
"I do think it's important to have it in place," Bonds said.
But, 9News Legal Analyst Scott Robinson has questions about House Bill 1131. He says the it leaves too many questions unanswered.
"It's going to be very difficult to apply this statute to typical computer interactive services like Twitter or Facebook," Robinson said. "On the other side of the coin, difficult to defend."
The proposal states that comments posted online which cause severe emotional distress could be a crime.
"There's no definition of what severe emotional distress is," Robinson said.
He says different kids may react to the same words differently.
"Then, it's essentially up to the victim as to whether they suffered severe serious emotional distress by that comment on Facebook or Twitter," Robinson said. "That, the courts are going to look pretty dimly at."
Still, Robinson says this proposal is a good start because he says some legislation is needed to provide consequences for severe cyber bullying.
"We know that cyber bullying has cost young people their lives," Robinson said. "If (cyber bullies) learn a lesson in the juvenile system, maybe we won't be dealing with them 10 years from now."
Bonds wonders if any law or policy will really deter kids from engaging in cyber bullying.
"It has to be the prevention piece," Bonds said. "The kids are way out in front of us on this and they probably will continue to be. So, we have to teach them cyber ethics, how to respond, and be appropriate online as well as how to help others when they see others potentially being harmed."
She hopes one day with legislation, prevention campaigns, and parental involvement that cyber bullying can cease to be a serious problem.
"I do believe in a tipping point," Bonds said. "I think when we get the bulk of our kids and even all of our adults saying it's not okay and taking a stand for others, being up standers. Once we reach that tipping point, it will diminish to a much lesser degree."