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Cyber Bullying

From Toledo Blade Letters to the Editor, Schools can move against cyber bullying

Your Nov. 7 story "Parents, schools often are stymied when bullying jumps to cyberspace" was a good attempt to highlight an important issue. However, it included inaccurate information that is potentially dangerous to students who are experiencing online harassment. The message conveyed in the article was that schools are helpless in the battle against cyber-bullying because most of it occurs off school grounds. That is not true.

Most cyber-bullying occurs between students at the same school. The law empowers schools to regulate cyber-bullying that occurs off-campus, if the harassment negatively affects the victim's educational environment or the overall environment at the school.

Courts across the country have ruled that schools have the right -- and, I would argue, the duty -- to address off-campus harassment in the same way they would deal with bullying on school grounds or at school-sponsored activities.

The crucial factor is the impact on the victim's education and well-being in school. School officials should carefully document the connection between harassment and its effect on the victim, and properly respond if there is adequate evidence that the harassment is hurting the victim.

Cyber-bullying is not a free-speech issue. While students, like anyone else, generally have the right to say what they want, they do not have the right to harass and intimidate another student with the intent of doing physical or psychological harm.

Victims are usually targeted because they are perceived to be different. Children suffer because of bullying, both traditional and online. They suffer psychologically, physically, and academically. Sometimes they kill themselves.

We owe it to our kids to be informed and empowered to stop all forms of bullying.

Down loaded 11/17/2011 from http://www.toledoblade.com/Letters-to-the-Editor/2011/11/14/Schools-can-move-against-cyberbullying.html

Rob Salem
Clinical Professor of Law
University of Toledo
W. Bancroft St.

E-mail 4ane...@embarqmail.com  
Last modified: 02/09/09