Monday, September 17, 2012

Cyberbullying and Harassment is not a First Amendment Right!

I will be writing a series of posts having to do with cyberbullying and First Amendment Rights.  Let me first be clear.  Those who think that bullying a person through the Internet via Facebook, Twitter, and other social mediums, while at home, is immune from school intervention and discipline, is plainly wrong.  People who use the phrase, "I have my First Amendment Rights to..." Or "they are violating my First Amendment Rights" have not been well versed. I went to law school and it took a year of Constitutional Law before I had any understanding  of the First Amendment.  Then of course the issue of having cases where it applies takes extensive research involving sorting through appellate and Supreme Court cases where Amendment Rights have been argued and decided. 

Parents need to look to the student handbook and code of conduct. Schools can discipline students who post things about other students on the Internet even if they are posting from a home computer. If they post for example, Susie Q is smart and a good soccer player or tennis player, that is fine.  There obviously is no threat of violence or any sense of harassment or stalking.  However when the posting becomes threatening, harassing, inciting or poses a risk of fear in the victim then the school may be responsible along with law enforcement to intervene .  There are quite a few cases that prove this point.  I will share these cases and explain how they have been decided and what they outcome means for you and your child.   

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