Thursday, February 14, 2008

Laws Against Cyberbullying


Given teachers' concerns about cyberbullying, I thought I would share with you information about recent legislature to address the mounting problem.

Seven states have passed legislature permitting school districts to take action against online harassment. The laws focus on use of school computers to send such messages. In some states, laws enable school systems to become involved when off-campus cyberbullying occurs. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, finds this practice problematic, as school are extending their reach.
According to a USA Today, at least two teen suicides have been linked to cyberbullying.
Use this link to read an USA Today article on current cyberbullying laws:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-02-06-Cyberbullying_N.htm
Should laws exist to discipline students who engage in cyberbullying on school grounds? What about when the cyberbullying extends off school property but emanates from instances that occurred on school grounds?And, should cyberbullying laws exist separately or alongside existing school discilinary policies on bullying? Post your comments.

1 comment:

Alicia H said...

I discussed cyberbullying with a friend who is a high school English teacher and she stated this is a very serious problem that it is prevelant within schools. She stated with the use of computers, email and text messaging on phones students have many technological outlets to cause harm to others through their words. Her high school (in CT) has strict rules against cyberbullying, but only if it occurs on campus. It is not allowed and she stated once in a while a student will mess up and cyberbully using school property. When that happens, the school can take action.
After reading the article with this blog I do have to agree with the ACLU: our 1st Amendment rights are there for a reason, and even with the evolution of communication and technology, citizens have the right of free speech. As long as the action occurs outside of school grounds, I do not believe the school should be given jurisdiction to act on cyberbullying. It is a parental issue, and I understand that some parents are not around for their kids, but that does not mean that the schools need to police homelives as well. That violates the freedom we have, and freedoms can be a 'double-edged sword.'
I do think that schools need to be aware and are aware of this problem and should identify when it is occuring, this includes trainging their staff on warning signs. Our rights also need to be upheld. If every off-campus student-run 'newspaper' (aka pamphlet a kid writes and copies in his basement) that wrote crazy stories about teachers and administration was monitored, that would be an injustuce as well. Stephen King, for example, was such a student when he was in school, writing a 'newspaper' every week and making up unflattering names for his teachers. A closer-to-home example is a female high school student in Burlington, CT, who has been severly reprimanded for calling the prinicipal an uncomplementary name on her personal website. The school lashed out at her, denied her priviledges on many things and caused an uproar in the community. Now her parents are suing the school. I support that move; this girl is standing up for her 1st Amendment right. Censoring can go too far before it is out of hand, and some think it has already reached a ridiculous point. I am in no way supporting cyberbullying, I think it is grotesque to say the least and it has fatal outcomes. I do not think schools shouls look the other way, nor shold they barge into people's homes for this, but they shold be acutely aware of their surroundings and what is going on in their student population in regards to this topic.

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