North Carolina Breaks New Ground With Cyberbullying Law; ACLU Critical


Starting this week, going online to harass your teacher could get you arrested in North Carolina, says the Charlotte Observer. A new cyberbullying law makes it a misdemeanor for students to commit various online offenses against school employees, such as creating false profiles, signing them up for Internet porn, or posting personal images and private information. The law, which took effect Dec. 1, breaks new ground nationally. The American Civil Liberties Union says it's the nation’s first to impose criminal penalties on students for such actions.

Some teachers say it provides a weapon against online attacks that can be emotionally and professionally devastating. While belittling teachers is as old as the one-room schoolhouse, malicious material on the Web has a far greater reach than whispered nicknames, bathroom graffiti and caricatures scrawled on notepaper. The ACLU’s Sarah Preston says, “Nobody else feels like it's necessary to criminalize student speech online.” Students 16 and older could go to jail for up to 60 days, she noted – even for posting true statements. “Essentially, what we're teaching students is it's not OK to criticize government officials,” Preston said.

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