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Changes in Cyber Bullying

Negative Social Interactions Could Have School Consequences

(http://adams.uwex.edu)I see social media outlets as great way to receive and share up to date and important information.  In fact, you can get updates from the high school by following @AuburnTrojans on twitter, where I routinely share the morning announcements, sports highlights, and other news regarding the school and district.  

Unfortunately, as we all know, social media outlets like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, as well as easy to set up blogs sites like Blogspot and Tumblr, have turned what were supposed to be very useful tools into potential weapons in our digital society.

Last year, as a school, we had to take a fairly hands off approach when it came to instances of student-to-student interaction outside of the school day.  There were many reasons for this, but the most prominent reason was the length of reach the school had in regards to law in these situations was short.

In the past six to nine months though, there has been changes in School Code, as well as case law, that allows the school to be more proactive when combating these kind of issues.  Mrs. Reiss and I have already addressed several students this school year in regards to negative text messages, tweets, and Facebook posts, and how these kind of interactions can, and will be, a reason for discipline at the high school if they have an impact on what happens here during the school day.

Case Law, which is a law based on a judicial decision or precedent rather than passing a bill or statute, was the first step to allow educational bodies to issue discipline to alleviate cyber-bullying related issues occurring outside of school if the reactions affected what happened inside the school.  This article, Cyber-Bullying Update - U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review in Three Cyber-Bullying Cases, explains how the court has decided that the argument regarding a compromise in the student's freedom of speech is not valid when disciplining for inappropriate social interactions that happen outside of school, or the school day.

Stemming from this case law, Illinois amended House Bill 3281 to add  the wording "including gross disobedience or misconduct perpetuated by electronic means" in regards to a school district being able to expel or suspend a student.  Electronic means is not limited to social media, but also includes text messages.

If you have any questions regarding what you think may - or may not be - cyber bullying, the Illinois Attorney General has a tremendous website outlining definitions and examples of what can be perceived as cyber bullying.  If you don't find your answers there, please feel free to give me a call at the high school to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with the topic in our school.

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