Chicago Public Schools are cracking down on cyberbullies. Students sending a threatening text message, leaving abusive posts on Facebook, or digitally altering a classmate’s photo, could find themselves kicked out of school, or even facing criminal charges.
Cyberbullying is now a crime
That’s right: the new Student Code of Conduct treats cyberbullying offences with the same severity as burglary, aggravated assault, gang activity, drug use or more traditional forms of bullying. New rules enacted by the School Board on July 28 mean that students who use computers to “stalk, harass, bully, or otherwise intimidate others” will be suspended for 5 to 10 days and could be referred for expulsion. The details will also automatically be referred to Chicago Police, who can hit the students with criminal charges.
Death by cyberbullying
Kudos to the Chicago Public Schools for taking a strong stand on this horrific practice. As Care2 contributor Ximena Ramirez discussed, our nation was shocked in January by the death of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, a recent arrival from Ireland, who took her own life after incessant bullying and cyberbullying from fellow students.
Around 40% of children are victims of bulllying
Phoebe is in fact one of many young people whose lives have been cut short by cyberbullying. Studies estimate that four of every 10 children are the victims of some kind of bullying. Until now, schools have been reluctant to take action since they are not legally responsible for the actions of their students away from school. Hopefully, the steps that the Chicago Public School are now taking will serve as an example to other school districts. For it’s clear that the results of those actions away from school, if they include digitally placing classmates’ heads onto other people’s bodies, emailing X-rated images, or leaving abusive messages on Facebook profiles, can have a huge impact on the behavior and well-being of students when they are at school.
Where are the parents?
These new rules regulate student behavior off campus and outside school hours as well as during the school day. So we have to ask – where are the parents? Why are they not monitoring what their kids are up to? Parents, pay attention to what your children are doing!
Creative Commons - Josie Fraser