School policy responses to the issue of cyber-bullying
Aim: Cyber-bullying and related student acts are increasingly becoming the concern of schools. Often the policy position is to ban student use of social networking, and high risk websites. However, such a policy position may be considered to be over reactive. This paper considers legal issues related to cyber-bullying and uses these to consider school policy responses to this issue, ensuring a safe, but educative, school environment. Methods: A review of relevant case law and statues was completed to develop a framework. This framework was then used to undertake an analysis of a publicly published policy of a local Catholic secondary school. Outcomes: The selected policy highlights some key considerations for policy makers in other schools. However, it still does not account for the full range of possible outcomes, though such a position may not be necessarily problematic. Conclusions: Schools need to develop an awareness of the effects of cyber-bullying and ensure that their current policy positions adequately respond to these, particularly the schools duty of care for students. Schools also need to ensure that in developing policy responses that they do not over-step boundaries and create unnecessary legal burdens. Any policy response must be accompanied by an educational program and should not limit student use of web-based resources that it becomes detrimental to their learning.
Journal of Catholic School Studies
Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified