Should schools discipline students for their online behavior? | The Tylt
Schools are punishing students for what they post online, even when students post content outside of school hours and without using school property. Administrators say cyberbullying has a huge effect on schools and requires attention. Others say punishing students for what they say and do while out of school is an overreach of power. What should be done?
Should schools discipline students for their online behavior?
There's no precedent for a student's free speech rights within the context of the Internet.
Indeed, a key problem here is that the US Supreme Court has never ruled in a case involving the off-campus speech rights of students in the digital era.
Public school students do possess First Amendment speech rights, although those rights are not the same as those of adults in nonschool settings.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A case in point is the Supreme Court’s famous 1969 proclamation in Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
As things are now, students live in a grey zone where school administrators are essentially making it up as they go along.
The bottom line is this: public school students deserve the right to know, pre-posting and pre-texting, what their First Amendment rights are when they are away from campus.
They must, in other words, be given fair notice. The court should hear Bell to let them know precisely what their rights are. It is an issue not likely to go away soon.
Many argue a common sense application of free speech is enough to clear up all the confusion. Even if the speech is offensive, free speech is a guaranteed right.
In a perfect world — or some people's perfect world — students would all be polite and well behaved. They would respect their principals and teachers and speak of them with reverence. But in the real world, students push back against authority figures — they tease and mock. Now, in the social-media age, the authority figures are more likely to find out.
There clearly can be student Facebook or MySpace speech that goes too far — for example, serious threats that really do disrupt educational activities. But when speech is merely offensive, and taking place outside of school hours and property, principals and teachers should ignore it — and think of it as the price we pay for living in a free country.
Anti-cyberbullying activists argue it is a school's responsibility to ensure a safe environment for all students. Social media is a huge part of student life and schools must be involved.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969): Students have free-speech rights. “A prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” Students have constitutional rights under the First Amendment. Those rights, however, do not grant students the right to substantially interfere with school discipline or “the rights of other students to be secure and to be let alone.”
Many people think schools should not punish students for actions on the Internet.
I don't understand how schools can punish you for things you say on the Internet.— Marcus (@MarcusClough) September 17, 2013
It infuriates me to no end that schools can punish for 'cyberbullying'. A school's job is to educate, not protect from the fucking internet.— Osama Claus (@timIaden) December 31, 2014
But seriously how is it even legal for schools to punish kids for what they say on the Internet unless u are threatening them.— ike nwoye (@systmbraika) February 13, 2015
Schools should not be allowed to punish a student for what they put on Twitter— Thomas Fitzgerald (@thomasfitz14) October 28, 2015
Some places, like Australia, are taking major steps to restrict students online for their safety.
"schools block websites to stop bullying online" schools have STILL not learned that it's not the websites, but the children who bully 8|— ∠( ᐛ 」∠)＿!!! ON ICE (@EmergencyBattle) October 29, 2015