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Teachers Fall Victim to Cyberbullying
posted by: Alix | October 01, 2012, 02:28 PM   

Cyberbullying, or the use of the internet and related technologies to harm other people, has become a very real threat to American students. Unable to simply "unplug" at the end of the day, students from across the country are experiencing relentless and often anonymous teasing and threats via social networking websites and blogs. While coverage has overwhelmingly focused on student victims, teachers are now beginning to feel the adverse affects of cyberbullying. In North Carolina, a law aimed at protecting teachers has sparked conservation about online educator harassment.

According to a Norton online survey of 2,279 teachers in 24 countries, one in six educators has reported cyberbullying. In some instances, students have attempted to provoke school employees to near-breakdown via false claims and threats. Teacher rating websites and personal social networking have created forums for students to voice their opinions about teachers, often with little accountability. With technology moving at a break-neck pace, schools and districts are often unable to keep their disciplinary policies current.

The new North Carolina law stays ahead of the curve, warning kids to watch what they say about school officials on the internet. As per the law's language, cyberbullying with the "intent to intimidate or torment a school employee" is now a criminal misdemeanor. Under the law, students could face fines up to $1,000, transfer to another school and jail time if found guilty.

By holding students responsible for their actions online, supporters of the law hope to curb harassment of school employees, including teachers and administrators, on the Internet. "We have to pull society back into a realization that what you say and what you do, you are held accountable for them," said Ms. Judy Kidd, president of the Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina. "When someone goes over and beyond what is free speech," said Ms. Kidd, "then you get held accountable."

Ms. Kidd told reporters that without the law in place, teachers were experiencing several threats. "We had students who were lying about teachers, then they were publishing things that were untrue," argued Ms. Kidd, a high-school teacher. "There was nothing there to have any recourse, yet teacher was the one who was suffering."

While online bullying has become prevalent, critics of the new law warn that the terms "torment" and "intimidate" aren't clear-cut and could curb free speech rights. The North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) suggests legislators define the kind of online conduct that would put "a reasonable person in fear of some kind of bodily injury."

What do you think about the North Carolina law? Are teachers vulnerable to internet harassment? Have you experienced it first hand?

Comment below.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by c w johnson-Georgia, December 14, 2012

What defense do educators have when they are being bullied by either parents or other adults such in on-line courses.
Cyber bullying of educators
written by c w johnson-Georgia, December 06, 2012

I recently ead that teachers should not use their social media for school related projects and I agree. There was an inccidentin Georgia involving a teacher and a student and a relationship which developed as a result of facebook. Do you think that educators should be friend students?
Social Worker
written by CW, December 01, 2012

II'm taking Post Secondary online classes and I have had courses where some of the adults have been harsh on instructors. Is there any information on cyber bullying of online facilitators or instructors?
written by CW -Georgia, November 19, 2012

I would like to know how effective if any would workshops be in helping schools prevent or confront harassment and bullying through electronic media.

Case Manager
written by CW -Georgia, November 06, 2012

Week 1: I applauded the law makers in North Carolina. Too often educators are the victims of pranks and malicious gossip which often ends promising careers. Yes educators are victims of internet bullying and not just by students but parents and others in the community. I personally have not felt victim to internet bullying but I have had friends and associates who have voiced some concerns.

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