A new school year means bullies could face harsh punishment

Texas legislation is coming down hard on cyber bullies. Crimes classify as misdemeanors all the way up to third degree felony. The sentence of a 3rd degree felony can be two to ten years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

With the new school year quickly approaching students could run into bullying. No longer do teens have to worry about being shoved into lockers, now bullies turn to the Internet to pick on their peers.

Under Texas House Bill 2003, online harassment is defined as  a person creating a web page or posting a message online on a commercial social networking site without having permission and with the intent to harass, embarrass, intimidate or threaten any person.

It can also be classified as a person sending an e-mail, instant message, text message or similar communication.

Bullying educator, Starla Garlick said one of the best ways to deal with and put a stop to bullying is simply listen to your kids. She said many times, just asking children how their day went can help a student open up.

Another suggestion, encourage your kids to tell someone if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe around other kids. Bullying can take place before school, during school, on the bus, at school activities and now 24/7 online.

Garlick said if students don't feel comfortable talking to parents, they should go to a counselor, teacher or someone they can open up to.

Here a few warning signs children can exhibit if they are the victim of bullying:

-They don't want to go to school

-They come home nervous or anxious

-They come home crying

-Their clothes and or school supplies like books and papers are in disarray

Bullying has many affects on children. They can experience physical, mental and emotional damage.

Garlick said some children may feel they have no where to escape so they turn to alcohol, drugs and even take their own lives.

Parents, teachers and student peers can help prevent or put a stop to bullying if they know what is going on. Garlick said confronting the bully or the bully's parents is not recommended.  She said it is better to go through a third party when dealing with bullies.

She said it is a good idea to address the problem with a school administrator or even police.

This web site offers warning signs and ways to deal with bullying:



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