How far does our First Amendment protect students? This is a question that does not have a defined answer yet. Many people believe students speech should be limited. Such as in the Tinker v. Des Moines case, the Supreme Court decided that students’ free speech does not end at school as long as they are not disrupting the school setting. This ruling can be complicated as it is very difficult to know when a students’ speech has become a distraction. Schools should not be allowed to limit students’ online speech because most of the time cyberbullying has no effects, schools are also abusing their power, and because there are more important issues occurring.
With the rise of the internet, cyberbullying has had an increase in society. According to a survey of British School Teacher conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Teacher Support Network, only 15.1% of teachers have been victims of cyberbullying and 38.6% shows that it has had no effects on them. This survey shows how schools cannot limit students’ online speech because in the end people know how to deal with it and it really has no effects on people. Also, according to the same survey, 41.9% of those who cyberbully teachers are unknown. Which becomes an issue, how is a school going to punish someone is they do not know who they are? Essentially, schools limiting students’ online speech is an unrealistic goal.
Schools have a lot of power amongst the students; schools are beginning to abuse their power. J.S. v. Mountain School District, shows a student being suspended for creating a profile of their principle. One may think that creating this profile was crossing a line, but the student was only expressing their opinions and not creating any disruptions during school time. The Supreme Court stated, “the School District violated J.S’s First Amendment free speech rights when it suspended her for creating the profile.” This demonstrates exactly how schools are abusing their power; schools should learn when it is okay to give students consequences and when it really becomes unconstitutional. Therefore, it is shown that schools abuse their power so they shouldn’t be allowed to limit students’ online speech.
Cyberbullying can be an issue in today’s times, but there are more important issues. In a political cartoon by Jimmy Margulies, it shows a teacher complaining about how his privacy was stolen. This is not a valid reason to limit a students’ speech because it is granted in the First Amendment. The teacher complaining about his privacy being stolen is the same thing as if a celebrity complained about the press. The principle in the same political cartoon is saying, “what’d they steal this time… credit cards… bank accounts… Social Security numbers?” This goes to show that there are more important issues going on in the world that actually affect other people.
Overall, schools should not be allowed to limit students’ online speech because schools already abuse their power, there are more urgent issues in the world, and cyberbullying essentially has no effects on most people.