Cyber-bullying is "the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others". (cyberbullying.org)
Cyber-bullying has been defined as "when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person". (National Crime Prevention Council)
Impersonation/Posing- malicious intent to shame or hurt (from http://www.bebo.com/CyberBullying.jsp)
Students have a limited expectation for privacy when using a school or district’s Internet system.
Parents of students who have been cyberbullying targets can turn to civil law for assistance with recovering financial damages for injuries or required actions. Extremely harmful online speech can violate criminal laws.
Schools have limited ability to discipline students for cyberbullying behaviors initiated off-campus
Tinker Standard : A student’s First Amendment right to free speech can be overruled when the off-campus, online harmful speech causes or threatens to cause a significant disruption in school activities or with the rights of all students to be provided with a safe and secure environment.
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA): any school district receiving E-Rate funding must filter Internet access and have a policy addressing Internet safety (adopted 2000- pre Web 2.0)
Protecting Children in the 21 st Century (Title II of the Broadband Data Improvement Act- 2008) Requires schools as part of Internet safety policies to educate minors about appropriate online behavior (includes social networking sites, chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness)
At what point does student off-campus, online activity in the form of cyberbullying rest under the right to free speech or when does it become an issue requiring school intervention and punishable under school disciplinary procedures?
The Tinker Standard requires that a “substantial disruption” be present or threatened
When schools attempt to punish students for off-campus conduct this is an area often seen as outside of their jurisdiction.
Two cases both dealing with student off-campus, online creations of insulting parody profiles of school administrators (3 rd Circuit Court of Appeals, June 13, 2011);
The Tinker Standard was used to confirm that the school’s disciplining of students violated First Amendment rights to free speech;
A dissenting opinion in one of the above cases voiced that a substantial disruption could have been forecasted.
Parents can partner with schools to educate students about cyberbullying and appropriate online behaviors
Keep online socializing to a minimum- choose sites where chat is pre-scripted or pre-screened for younger students
Explain the basics of correct cyber behavior
Tell your children not to share passwords
Code of Conduct and establish consequences for bullying behaviors
Know and understand school and district policies, including state legislation
Educate about cyberbullying
Provide clear guidelines for use of online resources for educational purposes
Partner with families to discuss concerns about potential cyberbullying situations and when to contact law enforcement if necessary
Recognize and teach that cyberbullying is a form of bullying
Make sure children know not to retaliate and to tell an adult
Save evidence as possible
Seek to identify the cyberbully or bully group and ask your ISP for help
for web resources to support your conversations with children about cyberbullying, and for additional information about state legislation, legal and policy issues, tips for parents and teachers, as well as recommended online sites for students in Grades 2-5.