An Iowa legislator who runs a small business suggests the anti-bullying bill making its way through the Iowa House may help teach students an important lesson — that what they say on Facebook, Twitter and other on-line sites is public, not private.
Representative Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, says more businesses are checking social media sites to see what employees and prospective employees are saying and doing. “We need to expect our students to also monitor what they put on their social media sites as well, ” Fry says, “because the public will eventually expect that of them when they move into the work world.”
Fry is a member of the House Education Committee. This week, the committee approved a bill that would make it clear school officials have the authority to discipline and even expel students for using social media to bully or harass other students.
Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, is a former high school biology teacher who has witnessed bullying first-hand. “Honestly, I think that our older students are starting to do a better job of regulating themselves. I think they’ve been in this long enough now that they understand, but what I’m seeing is that there’s more of a trickle down into our lower age groups of social media,” Byrnes says. “…There’s a huge learning curve here.” Byrnes says parents need to learn more about social media and how their kids are using it.
The anti-bullying bill – which has Governor Terry Branstad’s backing — cleared the House Education Committee by unanimous vote. It’s now eligible for debate in the 100-member Iowa House.