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Passion For Learning

New Law Criminalizes Bullying of Teachers

February 2, 2013 5:16am (EST)

The state of North Carolina has passed a law that makes it a crime for students to bully teachers online. There are already anti-bullying laws about student-to-student cyberbullying. This law is the first to make it a crime to “intimidate or torment” teachers online.

You may remember last summer when a bus driver was bullied until she cried. Students then put that video on YouTube where it exploded. The public was outraged and raised over $700,000 on indiegogo.com so that the bus driver could have a break from the malicious students.

Incidents like that one and those reported by NPR this morning are certainly inappropriate behaviors. But, there is some debate over whether or not they should be made criminal offenses, complete with jail time and fines. Chris Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina says the law is too broad for a “dumb mistake [teens] make, something stupid they say.”

Chip Douglas, a North Carolina teacher seems to agree. A 10th-grade student created a fake Twitter account under his name and posted terrible comments that reflected the teacher as a “drug addict, violent person.” He told the student that he planned to call the police, but in the end decided not to. The student, who Douglas recounts as excelling in class, took the account down. Douglas didn’t want to create a permanent black mark for a student who could otherwise achieve future success. So, he didn’t press charges. He did, however, resign.

What do you think? Should students who bully teachers be convicted of it as a crime? What would the long-term effect of that action be for the student? Or the teacher? What else can school districts and individual classroom teachers do to prevent cyberbullying?

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