NEW JERSEY — As many students begin the new year learning from home, a new report released Thursday by the North Jersey Anti-Bullying Task Force found that cyber bullying is of greater concern as children log into their classrooms this year and learn in isolation.
"Cyber bullying could become more prevalent than ever," said New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer, who hosted a video conference with the task force.
The report details five recommendations to reduce bullying in New Jersey, including: improved training and investigations, addressing mental health in schools and catching cyber bullying sooner, as well as changing the definition of bullying in the state.
"We feel that motivation behind an aggressors actions is critical to identifying bullying behavior," said Jane Clementi, who chairs the task force.
Clementi’s son, Tyler, was targeted by cyber bullying as a freshman at Rutgers University. He took his own life in 2010. His roommate was subsequently charged with a hate crime and sentenced to jail in 2012.
Parents and educators on the task force found the current state law does not require schools to follow up with students after they've been involved in a bullying incident.
"Many aggressors have underlying personal challenges that may be motivating their aggressive acts towards other students," said Dr. Sarah Amador, a psychologist. "Many targets experience sexual trauma as a result of these bullying incidents."
The task force also recommended that consequences for aggressors should include bullying education or an assignment that teaches empathy.