Earlier this year New Jersey enacted the toughest anti-bullying law in the country. The aptly named Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights was put in place after the death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi. It also stemmed from a handful of other high profile bullying-related incidents across the country. While instances of this type of harassment are tragic, they absolutely do not require an across-the-board government solution.

According to the New Jersey law, “Each school must designate an anti-bullying specialist to investigate complaints; each district must, in turn, have an anti-bullying coordinator; and the State Education Department will evaluate every effort, posting grades on its website. Superintendents said that educators who failed to comply could lose their licenses.”

The added costs to this government overreach are putting already financially stressed school districts in dire straits.

As a result, in East Hanover, New Jersey, lunch-line bullies can be reported to the police anonymously through a Crime Stoppers hotline. Additionally, localities must appoint a safety team to review bullying complaints. Administrators and teachers have to attend training seminars and children must attend workshops and put up with posters, programs, and cheesy role-playing exercises to increase awareness. These overreaching regulations teach kids to snitch on their classmates, whether justified or not, and puts a strain on school employees.

Sadly, the ridiculousness of this law is not confined to New Jersey. According to watchdog orginization Bully Police USA, 47 states have bullying laws on the books. Regardless, the calls for more stringent mandates and tougher penalties have been magnified excessively in recent years. In fact, a national anti-bullying law was introduced last year and you can be sure it will gain steam eventually.

But what’s next? Are we supposed to outlaw teasing and childish taunts? Maybe a $500 fine for anyone caught sticking their tongue out in an insulting manner? How about jail time for any perp caught making a derogatory comment about someone’s mother?

Society often demands a knee-jerk response to isolated problems. The government, always ready to pander to the public, will be happy to comply with legislation on par with the killing of a fly with a bazooka. In the case of anti-bullying legislation we need to look at the problem rationally and realize the easiest solution is not always the best.

Instead of enacting a Crime Stoppers hotline or creating an anti-bullying task force, parents should work with their children to help them understand bullying is not acceptable. If someone is a bully or being bullied then their parents need to step in and correct the situation. Teachers and administrators have been dealing with this issue on a case-by-case basis since the beginning of time. Those are the only effective solutions.

It makes no sense whatsoever to ask the government to combat bullying. The federal and most, if not all, state governments can’t competently run a single department or bureaucracy under their purview. Do you really think they can police school yards? Maybe, as a society, instead of bellyaching to the government we should put more emphasis on personal accountability by teaching our children to treat each other with respect.