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Cyberbullying is the deliberate use of electronic equipment like computers and phones to cause harm repeatedly (Hinduja & Patchin, 2014). The ability of the most recent generation to use technology to the level of bullying, a phenomenon that has existed for many generations, is a new phenomenon. It happens on a variety of online platforms and venues, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and MySpace. Teenagers are continually logged into these social networking platforms, making the nature of the bullying unavoidable.
Teens who are the victims of cyberbullying experience negative consequences like depression, rage, and frustration. Children should be protected against cyberbullying via laws and procedures. There are school policies, faculty handbooks, and students' guide that outline ways in which cyberbullying offenders should be punished. However, the First Amendment fails to protect the victim of cyberbullying and instead protects the bully. The essay below demonstrates how the policies should be applied when a cyberbullying crime is reported by a student bullied by a classmate via Facebook. It also illustrates how the First Amendment protects the student with the Facebook page.
The student reports cyberbullying by a classmate that occurs off-campus via Facebook. Administrators face a delicate balancing test between their power to police the student off-campus as well as their constitutional right. The student will face punishment for cyberbullying, which is a crime in New Jersey. The other reason for punishing the student is that it will seem inconsistent how we punish students for minor infractions that do not have detrimental outcomes such as suicide and fail to punish serious offenses.
The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act of 2009 gives the school the mandate to punish the student. Once the reported crime has been investigated and found to affect the bullied student either physically or emotionally, insult or demean him or create a hostile environment for the student, the punishment outlined below may be given. If the bully is aged below sixteen years, the punishment will include attending class with his or her parent, while those aged between sixteen and twenty-one years will either face an eighteen months jail term or a ten thousand dollar fine. Finally, if the student is aged above twenty-one years, he will face a five-year jail term or pay a penalty of fifteen thousand dollars (Tenenbaum, 2014).
The student with the Facebook page may, however, use the First Amendment Act to defend himself and evade punishment. The First Amendment Law, which was passed following a Facebook page created to embarrass classmates in Albany, gives protection to cyberbullies. It provides the right to religion and freedom of expression. The freedom of expression clause guarantees all citizens the freedom of speech using any communication medium. The student may argue that he was exercising his freedom of speech using Facebook, which is allowed by the Law. The law also extends freedom of expression to students, and the offender, in this case, was a student.
To conclude, the student can also argue using Tinker Principles stating that the comments were made off-campus and therefore the school operations were not disrupted (Bryan, 2014). They were not anticipated to cause disruption in the school in the future. The other Tinker principle that the offender would use to defend himself is that his post involved "silent expression of opinion". This paper shows that more laws on cyberbullying need to be put in place to seal loopholes of the First Amendment, which protects cyberbullies.
Bryan, G. (2014). Cyber bullying and the 1st Amendment: The need for Supreme Court guidance in the digital age. Law School Student Scholarship, 615, 1-28.
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, W. (2014). Cyber bullying identification, prevention, and response. Cyberbullying Research Centre, Retrieved from http://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-identification-prevention-and-response
Tanenbaum, J. (2014). Cyber bullying is now a crime in New Jersey. Jerry Tanenbaum. Retrieved from http://jerrytanenbaum.com/2014/01/cyber-bullying-now-crime-new-jersey/
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