Cyber-bullying target of WA bill, student summit

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on March 29, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 29 at 5:19 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- As lawmakers Tuesday discussed ways for the state to crackdown on cyber-bullying, teenagers were dealing with the same topic a few miles away.

Nearly 200 students from North Thurston's four public high schools gathered for the 11th Annual Student Safety Summit. The students spent the day at North Thurston High School coming up with ways to eliminate mean spirited messages from being texted or posted on Facebook.

"Talking about it with one another makes people understand that one rude comment really upsets someone else," Timberline High School senior Hayley Matson said.

Matson's group came up with an idea to give thumb rings to students. The rings would have positive messages written on them in an attempt to remind students to be nice when sending a text message. Matson said if kids were just nicer online, cyber-bullying would not be such a problem.

But the state and schools need to be involved, said Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. She's co-sponsoring a bill that would create a work group to document cases of harassment, make recommendations to districts and provide counseling for student victims of abuse.

"We've seen both nationally and here in the state some awful instances of kids that killed themselves as a result of being bullied," said Jinkins.

The bill passed in the House and was up for debate in the Senate's Ways and Means Committee Tuesday afternoon.

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