Cyberbullying And The First Amendment
Name-calling, rumors, and students pushing one another around have been an obstacle for students of all ages; however, as time passes, technology has advanced, and with those devices’ students can virtually attack their peers, also known as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying happens through digital technology like smartphones, tablets, computers, game counselors, and more. Through instant messages, social media, and shared content, cyberbullies share negative, harmful, and false statements about someone or someone, which causes that individual to be embarrassed, ashamed, and even scared (What is Cyberbullying, 2020).
From FaStudents virtually attack one another from TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and other platforms, this essay, we will discuss a scenario of a student who attends public school in the La Grande School District based in Oregon who notifies her educator whom she has been subjected to bullying through a classmate’s Facebook classmate’s-dress what steps need to be taken place along with any First Amendment arguments that may occur with the student with the Facebook page and any responses that the educator could make toward those First Amendment arguments relevant to the situation.
In Oregon,, school districts must apply an anti-bullying policy that forbids harassment, intimidation, bullying, and cyberbullying (Oregon Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies, 2017). During the creation of the anti-bullying policy, the school districts must be sure to address critical points such as statements prohibiting this type of behavior, the definition of the prohibiting behavior that goes with Oregon state law, procedures for reporting, procedures for investigating, disciplinary consequences, and more (Oregon Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies, 2017). The Oregon school districts are required to communicate with parents, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, and any individual in the community that is an active member in the school district about the development of this policy once it is being created. It is essential to ensure that no information has been missed and that all individuals feel safe and connect with the school district that serves the community. Oregon school districts are required to provide training and informational opportunities for educators, school employees, and students on how to deal with situations such as acts of harassment, acts of cyberbullying, acts of bullying, and how to respond to the behavior (Oregon Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies, 2017).
La Grande School District
In the La Grande School District, if a student communicates with an educator about being cyberbullied by another student, there is a specific procedure that the educator must follow. First, the educator must bring this information to the principal; if there is a complaint against the principal, then the report will be brought to the school district superintendent, and if there is a complaint against the superintendent, then the information will be brought to the board chair (Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Cyberbullying, or Teen Dating Violence Reporting Procedures – Student, 2019). Secondly, the professional individual aking on the case will start tinvestigatingthe situation. Whether it is the school principal, superintendent, or board chair member, one of these individuals will notify the parents of both students who are involved in the situation. The school district official that is leading the case will arrange a meeting between all parties within five working days starting from the day that the information was received; during this time, each party will have an opportunity to defend themselves in the situation, and the school official will notify each party through an official written letter once the investigation has been concluded (Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Cyberbullying, or Teen Dating Violence Reporting Procedures – Student, 2019) thirdly, if the supposed individual who made the complaint is unsatisfied with the final decision, then. In that case, write an appeal that must be submitted within ten (10) working days from the original decision date. Fourthly, if the individual who made the complaint is still not satisfied with any of the decisions then they can submit a second appeal within ten (10) working days and the Board will conduct a hearing within twenty (20) working days and allow the complainant to communicate on their complaint on the situation. The Board will decide whether to continue the investigation or not (Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Cyberbullying, or Teen Dating Violence Reporting Procedures – Student, 2019).
First Amendment Arguments
It is possible that the student doing the cyberbullying over Facebook could try and turn the situation around and claim that this act of behavior is allowed under the freedom of speech clause, which is in the First Amendment, because they are exercising their words and expressing their feeling on their virtual platform (Facebook). In the First Amendment states that a United States citizen may express their freedom of speech through words or there actions. However, the government will prohibit some vocabulary that will disrupt peace and cause violence (First Amendment, n.d.). For example, in the 2011 court case of Kowalski v. Berkeley County School District in West Virginia, high school senior Kara Kowalski purposely made a MySpace page dedicated explicitly to inviting other students to cyberbully individual students that were considered to be “sluts” with “herpes” in their schools (Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools II, n.d”). Kowalski “claimed” that she could speak freely on her MySpace because it was her right under the First Amendment. However, the Supreme Court sided with the school district on her five-day suspension because her page was created to attack individuals virtually and that is a violent act in which the First Amendment does not support (Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools II, n.d.)
In the scenario of the student cyberbullying another student through their Facebook page, the educator can communicate to the student that this harmful behavior being done over Facebook disrupts the peace of another student, which is considered a violent act. The educator can even take it one step further and politely communicate to the student that the La Grande School District policy on harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyberbullying, and teen dating violence follows Oregon anti-bullying laws, which is communicated to all of the students and their families at the beginning of the school year. The educator can remind the student that they have freedom of speech, but not when their address is used to target someone else harmfully. Otherwise, the educator will need to follow the La Grande School Districts steps that were provided earlier on how to report this act of behavior.
In conclusion, the First Amendment supports all United States citizen’s exercise of speech whether that individual chooses to do that through words or symbols. Still, the United States Constitution does not help United States citizens using their freedom of speech clause to directly scare, harm, or violate another individual’s peace. All across the country, students are getting harassed, bullied, and cyberbullied. The best thing for school individuals is to provide education, training, and a support system. With these tools, students will be educated on why this behavior is not okay and and how to handle the situation, and students will feel toolset enough to take this information to their educators because they will know how to support them best.
FindLaw’s United States Fourth Circuit case and opinions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2020, from https://caselaw.findlaw.com/usFindLaw’suit/1575495.html
First Amendment. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2020, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment
Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Cyberbullying, or Teen Dating Violence Reporting Procedures – Student [PDF]. (2019). La Grande: La Grande School District 1.
Public Affairs. (2017, December 05). Oregon Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies. Retrieved June 10, 2020, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/laws/oregon
Public Affairs. (2020, May 07). What Is Cyberbullying. Retrieved June 10, 2020, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it
We’ll write everything from scratch
A student notifies you that she has been bullied through a classmaWe’llFacebook page.
In 500-750 words, address the following:
- Provide the steps you are required to take that are consistent with statutes, your district’s school board policies, the faculty handbook, and the student handbook;
- Any First Amendment arguments you think the studdistrict’she Facebook page may raise and
- Responses you could make to the First Amendment arguments that are consistent with the cases in the assigned readings
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