Phoebe Prince, 15 committed suicide after being repeatedly cyber-bullied by fellow students via texts, Facebook messages, and in person at the school. Even after her death, the perpetrators left disparaging messages on a Facebook page created in her memory. Megan Meier committed suicide three weeks before her 14 th birthday. She was cyber-bullied through MySpace by the mother of a friend who pretended to be a boy interested in her. Tyler Clementi, a gay 18 year old at Rutgers University jumped off a bridge to his death after his roommate hid a webcam and uploaded a video of him and another male student. Tragic cases…
Cyber-bullying is any online posting or electronic communication (including pictures) sent by instant messenger, , texting, website, social networking site (Facebook, MySpace) interactive game, cell phone or other interactive device that is intended to scare, embarrass, harass, target or threaten another person. A one-time comment or insult is usually not considered cyber- bullying. It becomes cyber-bullying when there are repeated rude or vulgar comments, public postings or threats of bodily harm. Other examples: text wars, starting or promoting rumors, impersonating another person by creating a fake profile or using someone else’s password to create posts or send inappropriate messages. CyberBullying
What do you think is the school’s role? What authority do you believe school personnel have to discipline students for cyber-bullying? What responsibility and liability do you think the school has? What about students’ First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech? Table Discussion
Learning Targets Discuss the importance of educating school staff, students and parents about Cyber-bullying Understand the impact of recent California and federal laws Discuss key legal issues such as the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech and the limitations that can be implemented in an educational setting Identify the legal precedents and “tests” set by several landmark cases Identify appropriate procedures in the event cyber-bullying occurs Locate the CyberSafety, Cyber Citizenship curriculum and resources on the OUSD website Participants will be able to:
Importance of Educating Students on CyberBullying Keeping our children safe in a digital world Creating the conditions that will teach them to protect themselves Maintain funding for the technology to provide 21 st Century skills
43% of teens aged 13 to 17 report that they have experienced some type of cyber-bullying 81% of youth agree that bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person Some Statistics:
Senate Bill 1492, which became Public Law No: Title I of this law is the Broadband Data Improvement Act. Title II is the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act. The new legislation adds requirements that schools, as part of their internet safety policies, educate minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyber-bullying awareness and response. Federal Law
New California Laws Assembly Bill 86 – Amended Section of the California Education Code (January, 2009) The new law will give schools authority to suspend or expel students for bullying fellow students over the Internet, in text-messaging or by other electronic means. Assembly Bill 86 adds cyber-bullying to school disciplinary codes that previously defined bullying only in terms of direct physical or verbal harassment. California Senate Bill 1411, Penal Code section (January, 2011) Impersonating another person by use of the internet, , online forums or social media to harass, embarrass, slander, threaten or harm someone. The penalties can be a fine up to $1000 and/or a year in jail.
“it can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate” What about Freedom of Speech? In Tinker a landmark case, the Supreme Court stated however,…
The Supreme Court sought a middle ground to balance the rights of students against the needs of educators to preserve order and discipline. Courts have determined that students’ First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech is subject to limitations due to the special characteristics of the school environment. What about Freedom of Speech?
Two Supreme Court cases, Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 513 (1969); and Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986), set the precedent that: What about Freedom of Speech? This is often referred to as the “Tinker Test.” Schools can prohibit speech if the speech “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.”
In a Maryland case, Tommy Kuka v. Montgomery County Board of Education, MSBE Op. No (2000), Tommy Kuka created a website and invited fellow students to participate in a series of polls rating female classmates on sexual traits and attributes. Although Kuka claimed that the content of the website was protected by the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech, the Maryland State Board used the precedent set by Tinker and Bethel and determined that his speech created a substantial disruption and violated the rights of others. Cases
Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken for violations of the OUSD Acceptable Use of Technology Policy, the Discipline Code and the Student-Parent Handbook or the Employee Handbook The Discipline Code details levels of infractions and progressive discipline consequences. Schools’ Responsibility & Authority
Assembly Bill 86 amended California Ed Code 48900: Grounds for suspension or expulsion were amended to include bullying by electronic means: While on school grounds While going to or coming from school During the school lunch period whether on or off campus During or while going to/coming from a school activity Schools’ Responsibility & Authority
What about students’ online activity that originates off campus? Schools’ Responsibility & Authority
Although the current wording of California Education Code identifies activity that takes place either on the school campus or in going to and from the school or school activity,… Schools’ Responsibility & Authority There have been numerous conflicting legal cases regarding whether or not the school’s authority to regulate student behavior or discipline students can be extended to activities committed off-campus.
Courts have used the legal precedent and “test” set by Schlamp v Howard County Board of Education (1995). The principles are: Whether the conduct had a direct effect on the order and general welfare of the school, and Whether the regulation of the conduct (discipline) is reasonable in scope. Schools’ Responsibility & Authority Cases, Legal Precedents, & “Tests”
Schools’ Responsibility & Authority - Cases In the Kuka case discussed earlier, the State Board found that his actions had a direct effect on the school, caused other students harm, and interfered with their learning. In a New York case, Wisniewski v. Board of Ed. Weedsport SD, the judgment was in favor of school officials who suspended a student for creating an instant messaging icon depicting the shooting of his teacher. A student unsuccessfully challenged his expulsion for creating a website on his own computer while at home, that contained offensive comments about his Algebra teacher and requested donations to pay for a hit man to kill her. (J.S. v Bethlehem Area School Dist., 2002)
In two very similar cases, J.S. and Layshock, in which students created fake MySpace impersonating their principals and made inappropriate and vulgar comments and false accusations, there were conflicting rulings in the lower courts. Both verdicts were vacated. Upon appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals found that the conduct did not create a substantial and material disruption inside the school, and that the schools could not punish the students for their out-of-school speech. These two cases may be headed to the Supreme Court. Other Cases have resulted in conflicting rulings
In the event you learn of possible cyber-bullying at your school- Don’t ignore it Talk to the students involved Implement Restorative Justice if the circumstances warrant it Implement Progressive Discipline as necessary according to the Discipline Code Follow Due Process procedures
An ounce of prevention… is worth a pound of cure.
Preventing Cyber-bullying Through Education It’s the right thing to do and it is the law Implement CyberSafety, CyberEthics & CyberCitizenship Curriculum
Making it easy Curriculum is on the OUSD website Several choices Weeklong Scripted OUSD CyberSmart Lessons Weeklong Scripted OUSD CyberSmart Lessons Commonsense Media Commonsense Media Additional resources: Net Cetera, iKeepSafe.org
Cyber Strong Flash Messages CyberStrong Flash Movie Link