Sixth-graders convince mayor to strengthen bullying law
Students at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Wisconsin put their heads together to do something about bullying in their community. Teacher, Claudia Pagelsdorf, introduced her students to Project Citizen, an international program that fosters civic-minded behavior. Her students focused on four causes as part of their project: cyberbullying, improving school lunches, reducing cheating through technology and childhood obesity.
The students who took on the cyberbullying challenge lobbied the Franklin Common Council to amend the city’s ordinance about bullying. The law spoke of bullying but did not specifically mention “cyberbullying.” The mayor commented that he was moved to take action after talking with the students. They presented their research to him and convinced him of the need to add “cyberbullying” to the current law. Not even Wisconsin state law mentions cyberbullying by name. Mayor Tom Taylor commented “How does a child overcome the damage once the damage has been online? It goes global, and it never can be recovered.”
Jessica Stokes, Nick Tilley, Carla Smith and Victoria Cauliflower had to research their topic, identify what already exists to address the issue and come up with an action plan to combat the problem. Then they had to display their findings on a large poster board. They learned that 21% of kids nationwide had received mean or threatening emails, 8% had received messages by text, and 7% had rumors spread about them or been impersonated on the Internet.
Nick commented that “You’re going to think before you’re going to put something on a computer. Everybody can see everything you write online.” A violation of the ordinance carries a fine from $1.00 to $2,500 per incident.
We congratulate these students and encourage them to remain interested and involved in the world around you.