Sen. Calls For Anti-Bully Law After Rutgers Suicide

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Wednesday he’ll introduce legislation requiring colleges to adopt a code of conduct that prohibits bullying and harassment following the suicide of a student whose gay sexual encounter in his dorm room was broadcast online.

Lautenberg, a Democrat, made the announcement at a town meeting on the Rutgers University campus in memory of 18-year-old freshman Tyler Clementi.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports on the push
LISTENWCBS 880’s Marla Diamond on recent attacks on homosexuals

Clementi, a promising violinist, jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River on Sept. 22 after the intimate images of him with another man were webcast, and his body was identified days later.

Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, and another Rutgers freshman, Molly Wei, both 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy, and authorities are weighing whether bias crime charges should be added.

sen frank lautenberg Sen. Calls For Anti Bully Law After Rutgers Suicide

Senator Frank Lautenberg speaks at Rutgers (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Clementi’s death has prompted a national discussion on the plight of young gay people and bullying. The Rutgers event, organized by the university and the gay rights activist group Garden State Equality, drew about 300 students and others, including U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone and actress Judy Gold, a Rutgers grad.

“No one could have heard about this degradation he suffered without feeling pain themselves,” Lautenberg said. “This is a major problem, and we’re going to fix it.”

Gold expressed outrage at the pain inflicted on Clementi.

“What happened to him was not just an invasion of privacy. This was just sick,” she said.

Gold told the gathering that it was not surprising that Clementi was the victim of bullying, 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reported.

“Because being bullied because you’re gay is the last acceptable form of bullying. Because bullies see gay people being thrown out of the military. They see gay people fighting tooth and nail for basic civil human rights,” Gold said.

“What we need to encourage, what we need to engage in this dialogue is decent moral citizenship — one based on tolerance,” Sen. Menendez said.

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported that in the crowd Wednesday were students, teachers and members of the lesbian and gay community a taking a stand against the bullying.

Many shared their personal stories — including parents of teens being bullied for being gay, or teen victims themselves.

“That could have been me,” said Corey Bernstein, a sophomore at the Hudson School in Hoboken, N.J.

Bernstein recalled his own harassment and bullying in grade school to the point he wanted to commit suicide.

“I never understood why I was harassed and made fun of for all those years…eventually I realized.. it was because I’m gay,” Bernstein said.

Lautenberg said his bill would require colleges and universities that receive federal student aid to create policies prohibiting harassment of any student. Such policies are not currently required by federal law, he said. The bill also would provide funding for schools to establish programs to deter harassment of students.

State Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle is also co-sponsoring pending anti-bully legislation that’s based on the findings of a state panel released last year.

“If bullying was recognized as a highly destructive practice, not just a marginal disciplinary infraction,” Huttle told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane. “We would have coordinators and specialists.”

Huttle says the proposal would set statewide standards, as compared to current plans that vary from district to district.

Clementi’s family has said little. In a statement last week, it said it hoped the tragedy would “serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity.”

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • Jeff Colvin

    I am thoroughly disgusted with these two that did this to Tyler. You would think that someone of Middle Eastern decent and Asian decent would know a thing or two about bullying. The law need to be put in place with strict punishments to deter others from doing it in the future. My Biggest fear is that most of the suicides that have taken place are from gay people that have been bullied and outted. The only way we can resolve this issue is to start with the hatred that is created in the churches acrossed America regarding Gay people. If the churches didnt constantly demoralize gay people then this wouldnt be acceptable behavior in so many parts of the country. Americans have to remember that we are all FREE….and we deserve to all be treated EQUALLY

  • Barre Flynn

    Bulling is a part of life. We start getting bullied in 6th and 7th grade. Corporations bully all of us all the time. The Government is a huge bully. Police at times exercise their right to be bullies. Power often is used unfairly.

    It is a better thing that we protect people with vulnerabilities personally rather than think a law might do this. This is called community where we take care of each other and empower each other. Law cannot do that only people can.

  • jtorres

    DanTe, you have a serious problem controlling that temper of yours. Is that the way you express yourself to anyone who disagrees with you? Name-calling and blind judgements and generalizations? maybe bullying is your problem
    I for one am glad people are finally taking bullying seriously. This is not a “kid’s issue” and it is not harmless. This is not the first person to commit suicide because of bullying. They need to bring this issue into the forefront and confront it head-on. Not bury their heads in the sand and hope they “grow out of it” They’re adults. It didn’t work.

  • Suresh

    Dante, you’re one to talk about stupidity. Calling Ravi a dot head shows your ignorance and bigotry. While most bullying is becuase the bully is attacking someone who has traitts they feel about themselves, that is nto the issue.

    The issue is harassment, invasion of privacy, and degradation that Tyler felt after these acts were committed.

  • DanTe

    I love how you airheads all of the sudden are discussing bullying. When I first posted “hang the two slime balls”, you all piped in to say they’re only 18. As if that’s a get out of jail free card.

    It’s YOUR Permissive Stupidity that fosters this culture of bullying without consequences. And now, being the airheads that you are, there’s just more talk/hot air coming out of you.

    Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong and stupid all your entire stinking useless lives?

  • DanTe

    It’s Anti-Bullying and not Anti-Gay because that dot head secretly filming the kid is nothing more than a closet gay. One look at his manicured face will tell you that; and his “girl” is about as flat chested as a boy. He did it because he’s just jealous that he’s not the one getting plowed.

  • Polly White

    Jack, I disagree with your comment regarding bullyism . First , we are talking here about a young adult who was driven to commit suicide, due to bullying … In my opening sentence I mentioned that it is bullyism is the culture in many of our institutions .. this has nothing to do with laws controlling others .. it is about laws for everyone , ” What is good for the goose , is also good for the gander. ” This is not do as I say, and not what I do! Jack, I am afraid that you have missed the point!

  • Jackie Henrion

    I respectfully disagree with you Polly. Your first sentence reflects the same as a parent who says to their child “do what I say, not what I do.” The fact is that children do what the parents do and the more hypocrisy the parents exhibit, the more alienation occurs. But we must look inside ourselves before we create laws attempting to control others.

    • Polly White

      Jack, I disagree with your comment regarding bullyism . First , we are talking here about a young adult who was driven to commit suicide, due to bullying … In my opening sentence I mentioned that bullyism is the culture in many of our institutions .. this has nothing to do with laws controlling others .. it is about laws for everyone , ” What is good for the goose , is also good for the gander. ” This is not do as I say, and not what I do! Jack, I am afraid that you have missed the point!
      We cannot close our eyes, and pretend that bullying does not exist. We all should look into ourselves to see if we are consciously bullying anyone … this is a time for reflection, and a time to change behavior. It is time to observe the golden rule !

  • Helen

    New Jersey “Crack[ing] down on bullying” will not solve any problems. It will only create more. What’s to say that the child who is beaten or abused at home and then bullies another child will actually get any help? More than likely, tougher bullying problems will result in having that child institutionalized, and behind bars. What we need are more counselors! “Problem Children” as well as highly depressed children should be recommended to participate in group after-school counseling. (and by counseling I don’t mean JUST talking out issues) Play therapy is a wonderful alternative vs turning to criminal prosecution for children and adolescents. I don’t care if these children are participating in sports, just as long as they are learning to work together and using some of their pent up energy in an activity, vs using it to bully. AND ANOTHER THING! Not all parents are abusive in the context you might think it. When a parent does not say “NO” to a child every once a while, or when they say “NO” and don’t stick to their guns and keep punishment and rewards consistent, kids get frustrated, believe it or not, and take it out on others. It’s a horrible way to raise kids when the parent is inconsistent. Okay, nuff ranting.

  • Polly White

    While bullyism is the culture in many of our institutions , we need to take a stand to outlaw this type of behavior. Bullying a person is no longer cool, and as such sanctions should be placed against the bullies. Bullying is a form of peer abuse; there are three basic types : emotional, verbal, and physical — but the type described in the above article is down right dirty! It caused emotional problem …. it has driven another human being to commit suicide ; therefore bullying can cause far reaching psychological problems . Bullying occur in all context: schools, colleges, church, workplaces, home, and in our neighborhoods; we can no longer sit by and ignore the bullies; it is time to stop them, by making bullying an unlawful act which can attract a fine , or further punishment.

    • Lisa

      Yes and then while We’re at it if it results in someone oh sat taking their life make is assult with intent too….I miss my son every day and he deserves justice for the vile malicious rude comments….

  • Jackie Henrion

    It’s the culture, stupid. Right now we are bombarded with the internecine warfare of us vs. them in the media. Whether it’s in the Middle East, the pacific, the religions, politics. Having a seminar about suicide prevention is just dealing with a symptom and creating legislation is a waste. It requires an awareness that we are us AND we are them. It would be better to be reminded that we hold the heart of everyone in the palm of our hand and with that power comes responsibility. Try reading Eckhard Tolle’s “A New Earth” to see if you’re ready to really effect change for the benefit of students like Tyler.

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