United States vs. Lori Drew was a case that stemmed from the suicide of thirteen-year-old Megan Meier. Megan was a user of the social network MySpace. A boy named Josh Evans befriended her. When Josh Suddenly started to become harsh in their online conversations, Megan took every word to heart because she viewed him so highly. This lead up to her being told that the world would be a better place without her. This sent her over the edge and led her to hang herself. The Meir family soon found out that Josh Evans was a fake account.
It was created by a neighbor who’s daughter used to be a friend of Megan’s. Because this happened in 2006, there were hardly any laws about cyberbullying. Lorie Drew, the mother who created the fake account, was only found guilty of three counts of misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Today, there is much improvement with laws concerning cyberbulying. Forty-nine out of fifty states have passed antibullying laws (Hewitt). Although these laws may seem to be helpful, there still needs to be more consequences and prevention around this issue.
According to an online report, “A 2011 report by the US Department of Education revealed a handful of states are not utilizing best practices to reduce bullying. Inefficient bullying laws neglect to include a clear and comprehensive definition of which types of behavior and what situations constitute bullying” (Century). There needs to be a common law created defining the extent of the involvement of schools surrounding this issue in order to begin to solve this problem.
Schools are the main housing for the bullies as well as the IDK therefore this issue irectly affects them. Prevention of cyberbullying can be most beneficial in schools because of their population. According to the National Cyber Bullying Hotline, 7. 5 million Facebook users are under 13 years old. 81% of teens say bullying online is easier to get away with. 3 million kids per month are absent from school due to bullying. 20% of kids cyber bullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it. 4500 kids commit suicide each year. Suicide is the No. 3 killer of teens in the US (Rapant).
Some may argue that law enforcement should be the only authority to deal with cyber bullying, however, in most cases, by the time that a cyber bullying issue is reported to the police, it could be too late. Police normally can only take action if the cyber bullying involves threat or child pornography. Although these cases are very serious and should be made aware to police, a large amount of cases involving cyber bullying do not involve threats or child pornography. That leaves a large amount of cyber bullying cases unnoticed by authorities.
This is where the school system comes in. Stated in the law being proposed, if the cases involve these two issues, the police force will be immediately notified, however, if they are aware of a case that law enforcement cannot help with, the schools will del with it on their own. According to a cyber bullying prevention website, “Schools are struggling to create policies that deal with cyber bullying and the use of cell phones at schools. Experts say banning technology is not the answer. The only answer currently possible is teaching kids to be good digital citizens (What is).
But will simply educating these students be enough? According to the parents that were invluded in study done in the year 2014, the issue of cyber bullying includes a large amount of their children. “Only 15% of parents think that their child is safe online. 47% of parents are concerned about their child being bullied online. Half of all parents think their child may have been bullied online. 44% of parents think their child may be a cyber-bully themselves and 13% have been told that their child is a cyberbully” (Statistics).
Schools are supposed to be a safe place for children where they can learn and grow, however, they have become a place where their children are likely to experience cyber bullying. The law proposed will solve this concern of parents. Many have argued that giving schools the right to search through their student’s phones is a violation to the first amendment. Emily Suski argues in the Case Western Reserve Law Review by saying “The Supreme Court has given educators the authority to restrict student speech in certain scenarios.
The court’s decision in the 2007 Morse v. Frederick case is an example of this. If educators can restrict student speech at offcampus events, as justices said they could in Morse v. Frederick, they could also pursue students for inappropriate speech in an online forum” (Suski). This is clearly explained by saying; In both Ashcroft v. ACLU and Reno v. ACLU, speech that takes place through electronic mediums is entitled to traditional free speech protections. Although online speech is still protected speech, this right to speak freely is not absolute.
In certain situations, schools may respond to cyberbullying and discipline a student, and in other situations, the school must respond. In other words, the legal rules in this area are not black and white; instead, everything is gray. This puts schools and school administrators in a difficult legal predicament: if they respond, they may violate the First Amendment; if they do nothing, they may be reprimanded for failure to act (First Amendment). So which side is it better for a school to be on, failure to act or a violation of the first amendment? One could save a life and the other could fail to do so.
Although going through student’s cell phones could embarrass the child, the good that could come out of these checks far outweighs the argument of student discretion. If a school has solid proof and reasons to believe that a student is a cyberbully, the institution needs to be allowed to check the student’s resources for the better of their students. This propsed law will get rid of the gray area and leave the schools responsible for looking after their kids when it comes to the issue of cyber bullying Many have argued that schools do not have the right to punish students for things that happen outside of schools.
New Hampshire’s bullying law states, “Bullying or cyberbullying shall occur when an action or communication as defined in RSA 193-F: 3: … (b) Occurs off of school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity or event, if the conduct interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event. ” (Hinduja) Although New Hampshire may be an extreme case of probable student searches, they are a good example of a state that takes cyber bullying seriously.
This state understands that things that happen online effect their student’s learning environment. Other state, such as Illinois and New Jersey, are realizing the need for help in schools for cyber bullies as well as cyberbulying victims. New Jersery passed a tough bill in 2011 in response to their large amount of reported cyber bullying cases. The law requires comprehensive training for teachers and students, the creation of teams of support made up of both parents and teachers to investigate claims of bullying, and provides accountability to schools, as they are assessed on how well hey handle bullying issues. This tough bullying law will require the disciplining of any administrators who ignore reported claims of bullying and students who are found guilty of bullying can be suspended or expelled.
Likewise, all school employees must take an active role in protecting students from bullying as they are required to report any incidents they hear about, whether they happen at school or outside the school setting (Friedman) Illinois sent a letter out to many of it’s citizens stating, “if your child has an account on a social networking website, e. . , Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ask. fm, etc. , please be aware that State law requires school authorities to notify you that your child may be asked to provide his or her password for these accounts to school officials in certain circumstances,” (Koebler). If every state in the nation passed laws and policies similar to these states, the amount of cyber bullying and suicide connected to this issue would lessen dramatically. This is why I propose a national law that force schools to be involved in the issue of cyber bulling.
Because this issue is fairly new to our society, there still is not a solid solution and it is clearly not solved. The popular current solutions such as lectures to students and parental controls on devices are not working because the amount of cyber bullying is not lowering. The United States as a whole needs to step up and tackle this issue that has claimed many lives of its youth thorough creating a low that allowing and encourages the schools to have more control when it comes to an issue that directly affects their population and institutions.