This weeks post will be detailing the risks of ignoring social media for educational departments in regards to legal issues. Firstly I would like to point out that the content in this post may or may not be legally accurate, I am not qualified in any to give legal advice and it should not be interpreted as such.
The organizations this blog post refers to are schools and governing education organizations. I am under the impression that schools are supposed to help students through any psychological distress and attempt to stop bullying, whether it be cyber or real world.
“SNS (Social Networking Sites) have been the subject of rapid growth in Australia and overseas, particularly among young people. They have arguably become an essential part of life for many Australian teenagers. For some teenagers, social networking may offer particularly valuable social benefits” (1)Henderson, de Zwart, Lindsay, Phillips. The role that social media sites play in teenagers lives is undeniably important in this modern day. They allow teenagers to express themselves, connect with friends and share information rapidly.
Recently in Australia a student committed suicide over cyber bullying on Facebook. It is not the first time that this has happened as well. I believe one death is enough and that schools should not be allowed to turn a blind eye to students who are clearly under emotional distress due to cyber bullying if the issue is brought to their attention.
The ACMA CyberSmart page here addresses the roles of the school regarding Cyberbullying. They essentially are encouraged to establish a cyber safety team, policies and procedures and educate parents, teenagers and students.
In the news report I watched last week the family of the victim are now attempting to take legal action against the education department. The news report on this is here. It seems the schools didn’t act enough on behalf of the student, however they are limited in what they are able to do.
Question: Should the education departments be legally responsible for not having a large enough input on the issue of Breannas cyberbullying? Perhaps they could have punished the bully’s harder. But what can the schools do to put a stop to cyber-bullying other than educating students, parents and teachers and punishing students who do it? If schools continue to turn a blind eye towards social media, could that be considered negligence in unfortunate cases such as this?
Also could we apply the fact that inside an organization if an employee cyber bullies another employee that he may be liable for dismissal even if it is outside of working hours? Would that be applicable to students who can be identified as part of the school?
I believe that the education departments need to set a strict social media policy for all students and teachers and that the students should be educated on the schools social media policy. This may deter students from committing cyber bullying if they fear the consequences and know teachers are aware of it rather than thinking since its on the internet it is invisible. Also should the education departments have law suits filed against them, they will be able to show that they have made effort to address the issues of cyber bullying.
I am curious to see how the legal action against the NSW Education Department resolves.
I would also like to point out that I had a hard time finding this news report as there are many other cases where teenagers commit suicide over cyber bullying.
(1) STUDENTS’ USE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS: LEGAL RISKS AND OTHER IMPLICATIONS - Henderson, de Zwart, Lindsay, Phillips
(3) 7News report: Bullying Death
(4) Today Tonight: Impact of bullying