As technology is quickly advancing, students spend more time on phones, computers, and video games rather than being outdoors and enjoying nature. Technology has been applied in school sites as most of our work is done here. Students have the power to express their concerns and anger within a single click. But how far can one’s words go? To what extent can a student carelessly express their feelings? Students’ online speech should be limited in order to create a safe environment, but any negative comments do go against our basic rights and it can also lead to mental issues for the victim.

Officials are responsible for maintaining an environment in which everyone can learn but they must also ensure safety to every student (Background Essay).  On school grounds, students are meant to learn but this site serves as a place in which students and staff feel welcomed and not threatened. According to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, “ Harassment creates a hostile environment when the conduct is… interfere with or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities” (DOC G). Once we feel threatened, what we considered as a safe environment is now another place in which one is judged. Take into consideration the random sample of over 4,300 students aging around 10-18 years old. 25% of females have been cyberbullied over their lifetime meanwhile 16.6% of males were cyberbullied (DOC A). Now, there’s no sure answer as to whether these cases were reported and the one responsible was punished but as a concerned parent and/or staff these numbers are relatively high. And as a school site promoting safety and anti-bullying, these numbers should not even be happening because the ultimate goal is to promote safety. Considering the case of J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, a student created a profile of her principal and used “vulgar and offensive language”( DOC D). As the case was taken into the US Court of Appeals, it was determined that her rights were violated. It, however, put the principal in an uncomfortable situation in which a student put at risk his reputation and therefore affected the ideology of a welcoming and safe environment.

If students are granted unlimited access to express how they feel and are not punished, it will counter the overall purpose of promoting a “zero bullying tolerance.” Bullying has occurred in many forms but “only now-via Internet communications’’’ (DOC F). A new form of students becoming victims to these bullies can now be much easier, behind a screen. If there’s no form of finding out who is responsible the bully will get away with it. A phrase that one will consider harmless can be a threat to others.  Russlyn Ali comments that “ Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling…conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating” (DOC G). Ali expands by mentioning harassment is based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, and if any of these occur it violates our civil rights laws (DOC G). Promoting these in any type of comment or post is discrimination and allowing this to occur is basically opening doors for discrimination and racism. Take into consideration the case of K.K. v. Berkeley County Schools, in which the school suspended K.K for “ harassment, bullying, and intimidation” (DOC C). This case, however, resulted in her rights not being violated and the school took effective measures to protect the victim of this devastating experience.

Being a victim of cyberbullying often leads the victim to experience some type of disappointment that can put them at harm. According to the Background Essay, “Young people have hurt themselves because of cyberbullying”(Background Essay). Cyberbullying has led these individuals to doubt their true worth. However, it’s not only for students. According to a survey conducted by British School Teachers, 39% reported their confidence and self-esteem were reduced. 25% reported being ill or stressed and 16% reported the way they taught was affected by this (DOC B). Teachers were also victims of cyberbullying and it does not only affect students but staff as well.

Students should have the right to freely say what they want but to a certain extent. We’re living in a world where the idea of free speech is limited and on school grounds, if it is harming a student or teacher, then this should stop and be punished. Limiting free speech will set this school grounds to safety and enforce the idea of a “zero bullying tolerance zone.”

Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

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2 Comments
  1. James 3 months ago

    That is a very interesting article that you have. Your position really speaks to me and I do believe that it is a right to say what ever we want as long as it is not at the expense of others. But sometimes we have to limit our selfs from saying things online for our personal protection. And in the world of online bullying, situations like those can be very tough spots to get out of.

  2. Roman 4 months ago

    Very interesting article, and I kind of agree with your position. I believe we should be able to say what we want as long as there is truth to it. However cyber bullying should not be tolerated, which I personally define as going out of your way to harm someone with online tools.

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