Cyberbullying has become a huge problem due to the rise of the internet and the creation of many social media platforms. This form of harassment can contribute to the disruption of school districts and students on campus. This has also helped raise the question, when do we limit what we can post online? According to the background essay, the case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District was about how two students allegedly disrupted their school’s environment because of their protest armbands. Later, the court decided, “…students…have free speech rights that do not end at the schoolhouse door” (Background Essay). This shows that we as students have the right to free speech anywhere, whether that be in school or online. Online speech should not be limited because it goes against our first amendment rights, it promotes the idea of censorship, and it won’t actually stop students from certain actions.
If schools decide to limit students’ online speech, this would be an action against the First Amendment. The J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District court case was about a student, J.S., creating a cite about her principal. The school had suspended the student for this occasion that occurred outside of school. The court sided with J.S. and ruled, “…the School District violated J.S.’s First Amendment free speech rights…” (Document D). Having the student suspended was wrong because she had all the right to do what she wanted, especially because this action took place at her home. This shows that schools shouldn’t have to deal with issues that parents can easily have control over.
Furthermore, regulating what we post online would be a way of censorship and possibly promote a non-democratic system. The first amendment in the Constitution allows us to freely express ourselves without any fear or drawback. With this in mind, if we take these rights from students we could possibly be promoting the complete opposite of what this country stands for. According to Laura W. Murphy, limiting teens’ right to freedom of speech, “…is a step in the wrong direction…” (Document F). Having the freedom of expression gives everyone of all ages the complete right to show who they are and say what they feel. It can be concluded that if we practice anything but this idea, we would possibly going against a basic right we are all granted as people.
Lastly, solely regulating what students post online won’t bring a solution to bullying as a whole. Document F explains that bullying has, “…been present in human society for centuries…”. Since bullying did not rise due to the development of the internet, it won’t stop students from doing it; This will possibly lead to physical harassment and schools would have to deal with this bigger problem. In a survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Document B, the data shows that only 15.1% of teachers have actually been victims of cyberbullying and 38.6% of those surveyed reported it had no effect at all. Although cyberbullying can be serious in some situations, there can be miscommunication in the way the internet works and how others interpret certain things on there.
Although, many people believe it is a good idea for schools to regulate the online activity of their students for their safety. For example, in the K.K. v. Berkeley County Schools case, a student created a MySpace group to harass one of her classmates. Document C states that the school had enough evidence to justify why they decided to suspend the student and the court sided with the school district. Although it is the school’s responsibility to make sure their students are safe, it is still evident that the school still invaded that student’s First Amendment rights when they suspended her when this occurred outside of school.
In conclusion, it is well evident that the schools have no right to take our free speech rights yet they are doing this by wanting to regulate students’ online activity. Not only does this go against the first amendment but it also promotes censorship and doesn’t actually solve an already huge issue. So, schools should make sure they are protecting their students while also allowing them to continue to practice the rights they have already been granted.