Cyberbullying Prevention Law – An ADL Model Statute
Address Off-Campus Speech
Posted: May 20, 2009
Any new bullying prevention law must address cyberbullying originated off-campus which interferes with the school's educational mission. As a significant amount of cyberbullying is created on computers, cell phones and other devices that are not owned by the school, or are not located on school property, but still disrupt the school environment and the welfare of the students, it is important to ensure that schools are given adequate legal framework to address the issue.
While courts nationwide are engaging in debates about balancing a student's right to free speech with another student's right to learn in a safe environment when dealing with electronic harassment, most courts agree that schools may discipline speech which results in a substantial disruption of the operation of the school.
Model bill language:
This policy will apply to an electronic communication whether or not this conduct originated on school property or with school equipment so long as:
(a) a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, that the act will have the effect of harming a student or damaging the student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property; and has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students in such a way as to cause substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school; or
(b) the act is directed specifically at students and intended for the purpose of disrupting school, and has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose.