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A twenty something year old who teaches and coaches, but has been thrown a curve ball. I've been blessed with the surprise of the arrival of a little one in August. My hubby and I are thrilled, scared, excited, and nervous about the arrival.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Issue

The Controversy: Should schools get involved in cyberbullying that occurs at home?


A boy Jeffery Johnson, a 15 year old boy who committed suicide after being the object of internet bullying for two years, was the motivation of the law: "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act" (Fla. Stat. section 1006.147), that now stands in the way of kids accused of bullying in the form of teasing, social exclusion, threat, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, sexual or racial harassment, public humiliation, and/or destruction of property. These types of bulllying will not be tolerated in hopes to deter future culprits and future victims of the damage easy cyber-bullying can cause. Florida is one of the few states who have started to institute this type of Law and take a stand for what is happening in cyberspace.
Twiggy, a young teenage boy was nicknamed for his small frame at his school in Ohio. Eric Mohat, a smart kid who was called ignorant names and phrases by his peers. Eric committed suicide after telling his mother that he could not go on like this, and that there were nearly nine weeks of school left. His parents would prefer the school site the incident as a "bullicide" rather than suicide; they strongly believe their son was bullied to death. "'It shouldn't require legal action to get the school system to pay more attention to bullying than they do to their sports programs,' said his father. 'How many suicides is enough?'"


Schools have no jurisdiction at what happens off its campus. You can similarly compare it to what happens in another county or district can not be investigated by different cops from another county or district. It is also important to note the fact that schools cannot bring fault to internet photos that surface of underage drinking and that is a similar offense to bullying on the internet, although, not nearly as hurtful to another person. In the recent passing of the "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act" (Fla. Stat. section 1006.147) in Florida, "Elliot Zimmerman, a veteran Florida cyberlaw attorney, said schools should not be allowed to get involved in matters outside school grounds. If one student, for example, sues another over slander on MySpace, this is a matter between two individuals and their parents, not the school, he said."

My position:

This issue is especially close to my heart since I work with middle school aged students everyday. The thoughts of what some kids may say to other kids in the privacy of their own home, sitting behind a computer screen, completely anynomous or even blatantly recognized scares me. Too many students go home to empty homes or disengaged parents. The number is astounding when looking at the statistics: it is mind boggling that every day up to 77 % of America's kids can come home to an empty home. They are specifically defined as latchkey kids: who carry a key in their pocket most likely arriving home to let themselves in with their key. More detailed statistics show 14 % of them come home everyday by themselves. These children who are under the age of 12 are left at home, unsupervised for up to an hour after school.

I strongly feel, as an educator many parents are to blame for their children's bullying behavior on the internet. The internet is a privelege, definitely not a right, and students need to understand the purpose of the internet and what benefits it has in society and the disadvantages it can cause havic to all sorts of people: young and old. Parents, teachers, and students all need to be taught the importance of anti-bullying and cyberbullying. Parents should learn how to watch for the warning signs of their child being a victim of this recent fad or the culprit of ignorant harassment of another human being.
I think not only should students be punished through the school system for breaking Code's of Character, I do believe students who are cyber bullies should be taken very seriously and each incident needs to be handled immediately and to its fullest consequence to use the incidents as life lessons. It is unfortunate that teens brains to not process decisions as quickly and as well as the adult brain and although, everyone makes mistakes it is crucial that students understand there are always rewards and consequences to one's actions. I am extremely for schools getting involved with cyberbullying that occurs at home.

Additional Information:

It is interesting to note since I am based out of Maryland that in the article Bills to curb cyber-bullying raise free-speech concerns, from the student Press Law Center: "Nicholaus R. Kipke, a Republican delegate in Maryland, introduced a bill that would make cyber-bullying a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine — an approach that places responsibility on law enforcement rather than on schools, he said."

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