This Week’s Report: “Cyberbullying”

by Thomas J. Billitteri, May 2, 2008

Are new laws needed to curb online aggression?

Child advocates say a growing epidemic of “cyberbullying” – the use of computers, cell phones, social-networking sites and other technology to threaten or humiliate others – is putting young people at risk, sometimes with deadly consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled “electronic aggression” an “emerging public-health problem.” Court precedents on school discipline and students’ First Amendment rights provide limited guidance to educators grappling with the emerging world of cyber communication, especially transmissions originating off school grounds. Nonetheless, many states and school districts are taking strong steps aimed at curbing cyber abuse. In Congress, bills to provide new funding for online-safety programs have been introduced, but conflicts have arisen over how federal money for such efforts should be spent.

  • Are new laws needed to curb cyberbullying?
  • Do cyberbully laws violate constitutional rights?
  • Should parents be held liable for cyberbullying offenses?

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