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The Cyber-Bully Pulpit


The increasing trend of cyber-bullying has transcended the playground, according to a study cited by the Christian Science Monitor, as over a quarter of teachers and principals are the subject of mocking blog posts or doctored images. This new brand of bullying tends to be more malicious than normal schoolhouse pranks, and can undercut a teacher’s ability to perform in the classroom. Says one Missouri alderman whose town saw the suicide of a young cyber-bullying victim, "[W]e're starting to look at [bullying] from a whole other angle. People can't just say, 'Sorry, it was a joke,' anymore.’”

Opinions differ, however, on what solutions to pursue. Some school districts have come down hard, using provisions like North Carolina’s cyberstalking law to charge students criminally for electronically communicated threats, racial slurs, and, in one case, spurious accusations of pedophilia.

The legal precedence for these cases is unclear, but many experts believe they are a violation of the First Amendment protection of parody. Moreover, some critics claim that these cases set a bad example for students, discouraging an open dialog about the responsibilities that go along with rights like free expression. Says Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU, "What I'm not seeing is school officials approaching this in an adult manner. They're approaching it in an authoritarian fashion...”


I have had racial slurs sent to me at my school for the first time in my life. The person sent me at least 50 emails calling me the N word. I sent the info to my principal and he forward it to the technology dept. As of yet I have not heard from them.
I think the real problem is parents and adults see the computer as a way to say whatever you want to people without being accountable. There needs to be more laws to protect people working in the school system.

I found out yesterday that some kids made a myspace page and are ridiculing several teachers, including me. Since I have no clue what is on the page, it does not bother me, but I am curious to see it. I also feel a twinge of anger, though. Who do these kids think they are, lifting our pictures and making comments about us? They don't know very much about me except for when they see me in class for 50 minutes.

I don't agree with the ACLU folks for the obvious reason that I am being used. I see nothing wrong with an investigation to shut down that page and punish the kids behind this mean and personal attack. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech and the responsibilities that come with that. This has to do with the consequences of abusing our freedoms. Just as we can't yell 'fire' or 'bomb' in a building because it is a crime, kids can't go around destroying teachers' reputations. It's a little like a witch hunt.

Recently my teen 11th grade daughter was stalked online on myspace.com.
A fraudulent myspace.com web page appeared to her name portraying her and her close friends with their pictures as LESBIANS which they are not.
She suspects of an ex boy friend at the public school she attended last semester.
I contacted the FBI by phone, but they informed me that it was hard to proof it hadnt been herself the victim (that is, my daughter).
How could you get to the offender and hold him liable?

I had no idea that this type of cyberstalking takes place against teachers. For the last few summers I had students call my house and hang up but they didn't have the wisdom to block out their numbers. I found that discouraging that they would take the time to harrass me on my summer break. But now the thought that maybe there are some students malicious enough to go online and post vicious comments is very troubling. What's even more troubling is that law enforcement and our administrators do not take this type of thing seriously. Sometimes I feel like we are just out there as fair game for anybody.

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Recent Comments

  • Heather Brown: I had no idea that this type of cyberstalking takes read more
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