Huge Setback for the Fight Against Cyberbullying

Today is a disappointing day for all Americans (and the vast majority don’t know it). The Supreme Court’s decision not to overturn a previous decision which found in favour of students who harassed and slandered two Principals on the grounds that the school did not have the authority to punish them for deeds committed outside of the school gates.

The court let stand the suspension of a West Virginia high school’s “Queen of Charm,” who created a Web page that suggested another student had a sexually transmitted disease, and invited classmates to comment.

The court also left alone rulings that said schools could not discipline two Pennsylvania students for MySpace parodies of their principals that the students created at home. An appeals court, following 40-year-old case law on student speech, said the posts did not create substantial disruptions at school.

Lawyers on both sides were disappointed that it will be at least another year before the high court wades into the issue. Federal judges have issued a broad range of opinions on the subject.

“We’ve missed an opportunity to really clarify for school districts what their responsibility and authority is,” said Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. “This is one of those cases where the law is simply lagging behind the times.”

This is a bitter blow for American society. Cyber bullying is a significant problem. It is my opinion that schools should most certainly get involved when its students are bullying each other (irrespective of where they are when they do it). By working with the parents, schools can play a vital role in deterring  bullies from victimising others online.

I am very saddened to read that the Supreme Court is of the opinion that when a child call their Principals names like a “big fag”, “whore”, “hairy sex addict” and “pervert”,  their posts do “not create substantial disruptions at school.” Really? I would have thought it would certainly undermine the authority of the Principal. And should she/he is unable to take any action, it sets an awful message that you can get away with saying anything online.

Is this progress? I think not!

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