As Americans we think we can state whatever we want because of the rights granted to us. But where is the line drawn? We have reached a point in time in which technology has became the voice of students. Specifically, media platforms are where students express themselves the most. This has generated great debate among policymakers who are considering allowing schools to limit students’ online speech. Schools should be allowed to limit students’ online speech to an extent because of the overwhelming rise of cyberbullying, the harassment that comes into play, and the invasion of privacy.
As mentioned prior, we have reached a point in time where students are very vocal about their opinions online. In many cases students use their platforms to bully others. In the United States, this has became a critical issue. This can be seen in a bar graph assembled by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin on behalf of the Cyberbullying Research Center that is a large random sample of (4374 to be exact) 10-18 year olds from large school districts in the Southern United States. The bar graph displays that females (25.1%) have experienced cyberbullying more than males (16.6%) have. It also shows that both genders have been cyberbullied 14.5% in the past 30 days. The statistical evidence here shows that cyberbullying is happening more than it should. The numbers are at their peak, making millenials in this case victims of cyberbullying on a day to day basis. It is cases like these where schools should have the authority to limit students’ online speech. This will ultimately bring the numbers down and will serve as a national solution to this issue.
Oftentimes, students are not always in agreement with one another. They bump heads and even exchange a few hurtful words. But the disagreement doesn’t end there. Students take occurrences to a higher level. This can look like a post that is intended to lower someone’s self-esteem. Or even extend to creating a group chat to ensure that everyone hears what you have to say about someone. An example of this can be found in the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit case where a 12th grade student “K.K.” created a discussion group on MySpace.com that accused a classmate “S.N.” of being sexually promiscuous. This inflicted “K.K.” to receive a 10 day suspension and a 90 day social suspension. K.K. took the issue to court because she claimed the school was violating her first amendment right because it was a “non-school related speech”. The outcome resulted in the school’s favor. This proves that harassment can be enhanced and used to promote hate, which should not be allowed.
I would like to add that cyberbullying does not only discriminate gender; it also does not discriminate age. People of all ages have endured cyberbullying. And teachers are also victims of student’s online speech. For example in a political cartoon by Jimmy Margulies, there is a teacher addressing the issue of his privacy and dignity being invaded when the principal interrupts him by saying, “Tell me, teacher, what’d they steal this time…credit cards…bank accounts…Social Security numbers?” This cartoon depicts a powerful message that times have changed and students are no longer physically stealing things from teachers; they are now stealing their privacy and dignity. In other words, the type of delinquency is changing from credit cards to privacy through students’ online speech.
In addition, I understand that not everyone we meet in this world is going to be kind. I know a person is bound to encounter someone that is mean to them in person or online. But students should also be mindful of the comments they put out to the world at such a young age. Cyberbullying is a reality, but in many cases like those previously mentioned, it could be prevented by students’ online speeches being limited.
In conclusion, students do have the right to exercise their first amendment right. But when that right is used to promote hate, harass others, or even invade privacy, it should not be allowed. Thus, schools should be allowed to limit students online speech when that extent is crossed.