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> Date:    Mon, 3 Apr 2006 09:25:41 -0700
> From:    Elizabeth Hart <ehart@CSB-CDE.CA.GOV>
> Subject: Somewhat OT: Cyberbullying -- school policies
> I never thought I would have to ask about cyberbullying, but it turns
> out my youngest son (almost 16) has become a victim of it.
> We found out this weekend that some of my son's classmates from his
> chemistry class have set up a malicious, insulting profile of my son on
> Our older son (age 24), a soon-to-be network engineer,
> found out about the profile by doing a search under our younger son's
> name and city/state. It turns out our older son has been monitoring
> myspace in order to protect his younger female cousins (ages 16 and 14)
> and little brother from just this type of thing. My youngest son doesn't
> like, and so never goes to the site. Needless to say,
> however, he was EXTREMELY upset and angry to find out about the profile.
> Anyway, we have written the principal of my son's high school (return
> receipt letter), detailing our complaint and providing a link to the
> actual profile. We tried e-mailing, but it bounced. We have not yet
> contacted, believing the principal should see the profile
> first.
> My question: What is the policy of your school if it becomes evident
> that students of the school are using (or other internet
> source) to bully / insult / demean another student, even if it was not
> done on school comptuers?
> Frankly, my husband and I would like to see the students involved
> punished... My husband reminded the principal of "Protection and
> Safeguards," section of the "Parent/Guardian and Student Handbook and
> Notice of Rights and Responsibilities, 2005 - 2006", that basically
> states that any students who violate the tolerance policies will be
> subject to appropriate discipline.=20
> =20
> Elizabeth Hart
> Library Technical Assistant
> California School for the Blind
> Fremont, CA 94536

Hi Elizabeth.

I think cyberbullying should be considered very much on-topic. I have
written a book on this for educators and there is information on my web
site. See below.

It is challenging for schools to respond with formal discipline to material
that was posted online from off-campus. The legal standard is whether or not
there has been a material and substantial disruption or threat of disruption
of the school's work or the security of a student. The standard has not been
applied in cases involving harmful student speech directed against other
students, so it is hard to know where the boundaries are. If there is any
associated in-school bullying, I would continue to push the issue with the

One major problem your principal will have is that he will likely be unable
to even access the site to evaluate the material because of the school's
filtering system. Consider the implications of this in the context of a
potential threat of violence or suicide that is posted online. I have
written a document addressing this concern that will be on my site in a
couple of days. I will provide an announcement when it is available and hope
everyone will send this to their school administrators.

In your case, I recommend the following steps:

Download and preserve all of the material. Also go to the personal profiles
of these kids and see what else of an incriminating nature you can find (you
might be amazed at what you will find).

Send a complaint to MySpace to request this profile be removed. Be sure to
tell them all of the URLs. They may also be willing to remove the individual
profiles of the students who created the profile of your son. This action is
against MySpace policies and they will respond. It may take a few days.
There is a complaint form on their site.

Make copies of the material you have downloaded and copies of any other
information from their personal profiles. Send certified letters to the
parents of the cyberbullies including this material. Indicate that you have
taken actions to have the material removed, but that if any similar material
returns or their children engage in any retaliation, you will purse other

It is highly probable that the parents do not know what their children have
been up to and that the punishment they will impose will be more significant
than a day's vacation from school.


Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social
Cruelty, Threats, and Distress, a resource for educators, is now available
online at

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