WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — Several hundred people attended a meeting today convened by South Jersey prosecutors to address concerns over cyberbullying as the new school year approaches.

Law enforcement officers, education leaders, concerned parents and others gathered at Washington Township High School to hear from experts like John Halligan, whose teenage son Ryan took his life in 2003 after being bullied online in Vermont.

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The bottom line, he says, is that parents have to keep an eye on their kids — and yes, that means invading their privacy.

“Growing up in my house, we had one phone and it was in the kitchen, and I can’t tell you how many times we petitioned to get a phone put in our room and my parents looked at us like we were nuts,” Halligan told KYW Newsradio.  “Now you fast-forward to this generation and you’ve got kids at a very young age walking around with cell phones in their pocket. They’ve got way too much privacy.”

He’s lobbied to get laws changed in Vermont and elsewhere.

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This conference helped explain New Jersey’s new anti-cyberbully law, considered one of the toughest in the nation, which mandates that schools report such incidents and allows offenders to be expelled.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

 

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