From: GRPD Chief Ackermann
A notice to parents: Like most law enforcement agencies in the 21st century, the Glen Rock Police Department has been receiving an increasing number of cyber bullying and perceived harassment complaints from both parents and school officials. Each complaint is investigated on its own merit and in some circumstances charges can and will be filed.
Harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB) in school settings presents an ongoing challenge throughout New Jersey. Acts motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, tear at the fabric of our society, pose grave risks to the physical and emotional well-being of children, and can quickly lead to retaliation, an escalation of violence both on and off school grounds, and even suicide. HIB may take a myriad of forms, encompassing even common activities such as the photographing or recording of one student by another.
However, there is no criminal offense for HIB in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. This creates a potentially confusing situation: behavior that constitutes HIB in a school setting may — but does not necessarily — comprise a criminal offense under New Jersey law. HIB is criminal only if the underlying conduct violates a provision of the Code of Criminal Justice
Individuals of any age have a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech, often taking the form of distasteful rhetoric. As a law enforcement agency the GRPD is limited by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Justice, the rules of probable cause and can only pursue matters which may be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Parents however, have no such limits to their authority! Some simple steps parent can take are as follows:
- Educate your children about appropriate online behaviors, and model those behaviors yourself.
- Teach your children what behaviors are appropriate when on the internet and cell phone.
- Establish that all rules in person carry over to online or cell phones also. Teach your children to behave online and over the phone as they would in person. The same rules and morals should be applied to the electronic world as in the physical world.
- Establish rules about technology use, and most importantly monitor your child’s online activities.
The Glen Rock Police Detective Bureau, in cooperation with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, offers a programs to address these issues. Often they are conducted in cooperation with our schools.
For more information, please refer to the resources section of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office website: http://www.bcpo.net/index.php/resources.