House panel delays decision on cyber bullying bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A House panel has postponed making a decision on whether to approve a bill that would make cyber bullying against children a crime in South Carolina.

The proposal outlaws several ways children can be harassed on online, including posting their private information or photos on the Internet and sending them intimidating emails.

The subcommittee discussing the bill ran out of time Thursday morning. In addition, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford had concerns, saying he wasn't sure sending a child to jail for bullying was right. The Columbia Democrat says the issue might be better dealt with by school boards.

The bill, H. 3804, can be viewed in its entirety here.

The bill punishes adult violators with up to six months in prison or a $1,000 fine. People under age 18 would face a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Meanwhile, Tim Woda, co-founder of uKnowKids, provided tips to help parents prevent their children from becoming a victim of cyber bullying or potentially engaging in cyber bullying themselves.{}

  • Understand the technology that your child is using.{} Be familiar with all the functions of the sites your child is using including social networks, gaming systems, mobile phones, chat sites, etc. Some of these could have messaging and photo-sharing options that you might not even be aware of.
  • Be a vigilant parent. Know who your child is talking to and who is trying to talk to them.{} The more information you have about their interactions online, the better equipped you will be to interfere if anything dangerous should happen.
  • Know all of your child's passwords.{} No exceptions.
  • Communicate house rules.{} Before your child is allowed a phone or device with Internet connection, he or she should be well-aware of any pre established house rules.{} Discuss your expectations for online behavior and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations, but also discuss the potential legal and social repercussions of actions online, such as sending images or cyber bullying.
  • Look for warning signs.{} If your child is a victim of cyber bullying, the signs are there.{} Look to see if they are shying away from the computer and phone, if they are alienating themselves from friends or if they are suddenly acting depressed. On the flip side, your child should exhibit a change in behavior if they have started to become a bully online.