January 20, 2012
Updated Jan 20, 2012 at 10:24 PM PST
The US Supreme Court is taking a pass on a set of cyber bullying cases; it’s a big disappointment for those trying to fight off the online attacks.
The Court decided not to take up one case out of West Virginia; it involved a web page that alleged another student had a sexually transmitted disease. The court decided to let the suspension of the student who created it—stand.
Another case came out of Pennsylvania; two students wrote parodies about their principals on MySpace. The court stayed out of the rulings that said schools couldn’t discipline the two students.
As the courts step away, the problem of cyber bullying is continuing to plague students all across the nation.
It’s a social media virus that’s infecting our youth. “We asked kids how many people have been bullied online through text and the majority raised their hands,” says Hanford Chief Investigator Karl Anderson. “Then we asked how many told and adult—there were very few.”
It’s a problem the Supreme Court is leaving to the schools and a decision that is disappointing the National School Board Association who says, “We’ve missed the opportunity to really clarify for school districts what their responsibility and authority is,” said Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. “This is one of those cases where the law is simply lagging behind the times.”
The law might be lagging but cyber bullying is growing. “Every case is different from the minute ‘I don’t like you, you’re ugly’ to trying to destroy someone’s reputation,” says Anderson. He gives cyber bullying classes at Pioneer Middle School. It’s just one of thousands of schools trying to prevent the painful scars words can leave behind. “Traditional bullying happened on a playground, someone pushed someone down; it stayed at school two or three people saw it,” says Anderson. Now, it’s become a phenomenon—texts, posts—it’s a virus that’s spreading and schools can only do so much. “We can’t look at students cell phones and we can’t get on their Facebook page or twitter page,” says Pioneer’s Principal Greg Henry.
If bullying happens on kid’s route to campus, the school could step in; if it happens outside of school, parents or students have to report it. The situation has to disrupt the education process. “It’s also a grey area,” says Henry.
It’s a fine line the Supreme Court—at this point—won’t define. “I do think the Supreme Court might have taken the easy way out but it’s a grey area and it’s going to grow from here,” says Henry.
Many parents may monitor their children’s social media activity but do you have the right page? During cyber bullying presentations investigators say numerous kids admit to having a fake profile for their parents and a real one for themselves.
Christina Lusby Reporting.
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