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Platts Statement: Hearing on Ensuring Student Cyber Safety

Good morning. Welcome to our hearing. Today we have joined to discuss the important issue of cyber safety related to our nation’s children. 

As a parent of two school-age children, the issue of cyberbullying is one that is both troubling and personal. With the growth of technology that has included social networking sites, instant messaging, and text and picture messaging on cell phones, bullying is no longer confined to brick and mortar classrooms and after-school bus rides. With children’s growing dependence on computer technology, it is ever important that we address the changing face of bullying – one that is often anonymous. 

Given how rapidly technology changes its frequency is hard to determine. However, certain studies have shown that up to fifty-three percent of kids are victims of cyberbullying, and up to twenty-three percent of children have committed a bullying act through the use of technology.  

Most importantly, as parents, we must make it our priority to be cognizant of what our children are doing online and equip them with proper tools to identify, report, and effectively react to instances of cyberbullying.

The most severe cases, like Vermont teenager Ryan Patrick Halligan, who committed suicide as a result of persistent abuse online by classmates who questioned his sexuality, and fifteen-year old Phoebe Prince, who earlier this year also took her own life after relentless bullying by her peers, are heart wrenching reminders of why our nation must become educated on cyberbullying.

Fortunately, action is being taken nationwide by school administrators, teachers, parents, students, nonprofit organizations, and the technology industry itself. All are working on developing both innovative and practical approaches to identify, prevent and curb the prevalence of cyberbullying. As such, I very much look forward to hearing the testimony from our esteemed witnesses today. Thank you Chairwoman McCarthy.  


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