Schools should not be allowed to limit students online speech because it violates their firsts amendment right, it is hard to find out who even bullied, and many cyberbullying events were not committed in school.
Students should be able to exercise their First Amendment right without having limitations from school because the school system is not above the bill of rights. In the J.S. vs Blue mountain school district case, the student(J.S.) was suspended for exercising her First Amendment right by creating a website expressing her opinions about another student that was considered mean and hateful. It was also deemed a distraction in class and the school felt it was one big reason to to suspend her;however, the website was created outside of class time and it traveled into the school just like any other news, trends, or other subjects that can also cause distractions in the classroom. In the J.S. vs Blue mountain school district case, the United States Court Appeals for the Third Circuit asserts that “talking in class was not a unique incident [that is, it was not the only time students talked in class]”. This shows that they violated J.S.’s first amendment right over something that was supposedly, “a distraction”. Also In the same case, the United States Court Appeals for the Third Circuit concluded that “the School District violated J.S.’s First Amendment free speech rights when it suspended her for creating the profile”. This shows the school was in no position to deny J.S. of her liberty to create a website that expresses her opinion about someone else. For those that would also consider this to be unethical, just think about when situations exactly the same as this happen towards people like politicians, celebrities, etcetera. There is not as much problems that arise when it is with these people. I would also like to add that it is not illegal to hurt someone’s feelings and it would be unrealistic if everybody took someone to court for hurting their feelings. Finally, students should able to exercise their first amendment without restrictions from the school.
Another reason why schools should not be allowed to limit students online speech is because it is to hard to even find the person who commited the bullying. Even if schools did put a restriction on students online speech(which is basically impossible because it would take years to develop a system or program that could do such a thing), it would be to difficult to pinpoint the person that was doing the bullying. Nowadays, people can say what they want to say about other people(exercising their First Amendment) without anyone even knowing who they are. In a survey of british school teachers who had been bullied,by the Association of Teachers and Teacher Support Network, they found that out of the small 15.1% of teachers that actually got bullied, 41.9% of the people who bullied them were people they did not know. This shows that even though they might have stopped the 44.2 % of students that were bullies, there are still many more out there. The internet is so powerful that anyone(including students) can practically go in using fake emails and accounts with random names to cyberbully(express their opinions online),while remaining anonymous. I don’t know the type of software required to find a students true identity just to restrict them from saying a few sentences, but I know that it might also be costly and take way too much time to fully implement into our school systems and our own personal online networks. This goes to show that students should not restricted students online speech because even if they did it would be too hard of a task to do because it would be extremely difficult to find someone that bullied.
Finally, the last reason why schools should not limit students online speech is because it did not even happen on campus. Similar to the first paragraph, the K.K. vs. Berkeley County Schools case, it shows how K.K. was suspended for a myspace.com discussion group she created(out of school) claiming that S.N. was being sexually promiscuous. In this case, The United States Court of Appeals asserts that “There is surly a limit to the scope of a high school’s interest in the order, safety, and well being of its students when the speech at issue originates outside the schoolhouse gate”. This shows how they also feel that a school should not be too worried about things happening outside of their schoolhouse but instead should stick to ensuring that this does not happen in school. We also do not fully understand how dangerous this actually is. In an ACLU statement submitted to a subcommittee hearing on cyberbullying, Laura W. Murphy and Michael W. Macleod-Bell claim how “there is very little research to suggest the dangers to young people are dramatically worse offline than online”. This shows that even though a school is supposed to protect the high schools safety, order, etcetera, schools should not have the right to punish and limit students when the severity of cyberbullying is not fully understood compared to regular bullying. This shows that schools should not limit students online speech is because it did not even happen on campus.
In conclusion, schools should not be allowed to limit students online speech because it violates their firsts amendment right, it is hard to find out who even bullied, and many cyberbullying events were not committed in school.