Cyperbullying is the act of threatening individuals in some manner through electronic means. Bullying in general is something that many students have faced over their school life and now, it has moved to the Internet. A good example of what is happening is with the website Facebook, a very popular, social network geared towards connected people.
Facebook users can create “hate groups” in which some students are using to mock, harass or otherwise harm users. This has lead to situations in which students are bullying other students not on school grounds, but through the Interent. The problem here is that there is no one group that is considered ultimately responsible for fixing this form of bullying.
The State of California passed Assembly Bill 86, which defines cyberbullying, but some believe it does not go far enough. Should police be involved in the situation, to handle these types of situations? Or, should the school be responsible? In some cases expressing cyberbullying, schools are often unable to monitor children off school grounds and yet try to stop cyberbullying anyway.
Some parents disagree with this. They do not want schools monitoring their children’s computers or interacting with children outside of the classroom atmosphere. Parents themselves are often unable to monitor children close enough due to groups like Facebook, which makes it very easy for kids to come together online without their parent’s knowing. Take this a step farther and some could blame social groups like Facebook, which does not have stricter requirements. Should the website stop kids from cyberbullying? They often do not realize such groups exist until it is brought to their attention, which rarely happens soon enough.
An example of this happened in California’s Palo Alto school where a group of kids created a Facebook group that was called “I Hate Tyler” which was specifically targeted towards a student at Jordan Middle School. Over 100 members joined the group, which was created after the boy posted a video of himself singing on another popular site YouTube.
The question remains. Who is responsible for policing children who participate in cyberbullying?
If your school administrators or district would like more information on the legal aspects of cyberbullying, please contact Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500 or by email.