States are stepping up on cyberbullying following school policy failures
A recent wave of student-on-student cyberbullying through fake online social profiles has thrown the problem into the spotlight and prompted the question of what schools are doing about the issue.
Though school-imposed restrictions on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have often gone too far, when it comes to cyberbullying schools should take a stronger response in order to protect students from the likely psychological and emotional costs of bullying.
However, school boards do not always take immediate and effective action. Many times, schools do not even have a cyberbullying policy in place.
So how are schools overstepping their bounds in restricting students’ freedom of expression online while, at the same time, failing to use the same heavy-handed response when it comes to protecting its students against cyberbullying?
Obviously, this question cannot be simply answered. It represents a larger, underlying problem with our schools — one that will not be fixed on a school-by-school basis. Thus, individual states have stepped in to protect the rights of its students in the stead of its schools. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 38 states have laws that include provisions against “electronic harassment,” while 14 states have laws that expressly prohibit cyberbullying.
Yet, under these laws, if cyberbullying occurs the incident would be investigated by the police and likely processed through the legal system, rather than reviewed within school boundaries. Obviously, this makes cyberbullying a more serious occurrence — which it is — but at the same time, thrusts the potential for legal punishments and a real record upon the perpetrator.
This evolution, perpetuated by the increased intensity of cyberbullying threats, further substantiates the claim that social networking posts are not all fun and games. Students need to be aware of the immense consequences that follow any online post, even ones that are made in a joking manner.