Imagine you find out some kids from your school created a Facebook page dedicated to making fun of you. How would you feel? See we were given a right, a right that is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution; freedom of speech. What that means is we as the people have the right to say and do whatever we want without fear of censorship from the government. What we have witnessed over the years especially with the rise of technology and the web is cyberbullying. Since cyberbullying is new and seems to be recurring, people in power such as judes, Congress, policymakers, etc don’t particularly know what to do in situations where it involves schools. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few, are where people go to express themselves. But when does “expressing” yourself cross the line and become harassment?
Cyberbullying is certainly a controversial topic. There are those who believe it should not be limited and those who believe there are cases in which if it were limited people would receive justice. In the case of K.K v. Berkeley County Schools, K.K was punished for her “strong” use of speech. If the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, were to rule that her actions were justified because it was her right to speak her mind it would be extremely unfair. K.K’s actions were not only NOT okay, but they hurt the person who the “hate website” was created about. K.K created a “discussion group” on MySpace.com and in the group they would talk about a fellow peer, S.N, and her “sexaul promiscuities”. In Tinker v. Des Moines, the Supreme Court decided that if a student’s conduct “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder
or invasion of the rights of others” it will not be protected by the First Amendment.
In a letter written to school administrators, the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights asserted that schools should take an initiative to stop school-based harassment and discrimination. Those who cyberbully not only target pupils but teachers as well. Thus creating a hostile environment. In a political cartoon by Jimmy Marguiles, he illuminates the idea that there is cyber bullying happening to teachers and its happening more often. This can cause a teacher to not perform well when giving lessons or when helping students with classwork. Now, you might be thinking, How is it possible that teachers can be victims of cyberbullying? Well, it’s true. According to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Teacher Support Network, 15.1% of teachers experience cyberbullying, 38.6% experience reduced confidence and self esteem because of it, and 44.2% of cyber bullying is done by pupils.
As everyone knows cyberbullying is a widespread problem. It is one of the major causes for suicide and I believe, even if most of it happens off school grounds, schools should still have the right to punish those who discriminate others. As the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights stated, “A school is responsible for addressing harassment incidents about which it knows or reasonably should have known”. Harassment causes a disruption in school and in most cases leads to more problems. Many people are afraid to speak up because of the fear that the person cyber bullying them won’t be punished. Students should not fear speaking up.
In conclusion, schools should be allowed to limit students’ online speech.