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How Can Pennsylvania Schools be Held Responsible for Online Bullying?

How Can Pennsylvania Schools be Held Responsible for Online Bullying?

It is an unfortunate reality that bullying has been taking place in schools for a long time. However, during the rise of the digital age, bullying began to manifest in different ways. No only is it taking place in the hallways of a school building, but it can occur when children are at home as well. This is done online through various social media platforms, text messaging, emails, etc. Just as it is a school’s responsibility to protect students from bullying that takes place in the building, they also have a responsibility to do so from cyber bullying as well. Continue reading below to learn more and contact an experienced Pennsylvania students’ rights attorney if you believe a school failed to protect your child’s rights. 

What Is Considered Cyber Bullying?

Bullying can be defined as any act of intimidation, mistreatment, or harm towards a vulnerable individual. This can take place not only through physical acts, but emotional and verbal as well. Cyber bullying can be seen through the sending or posting of harmful texts or images on various communication devices or social media. Actions that are considered cyber bullying can include the following: 

  • Posting or sending threatening or cruel content
  • Creating websites or profiles that have content ridiculing others
  • Posting pictures of students with derogatory content
  • Using another student’s name or creating a fake account to post mean or embarrassing content
  • Using technology to harass another student
  • Posting inflammatory comments with the intention of upsetting another student and provoking an emotional response

What are Pennsylvania’s Bullying Laws?

All Pennsylvania schools are required by law to take action against bullying once they are aware that it is taking place. As of 2009, all schools within the state must adopt a policy relating to bullying and incorporate it into the school’s code of conduct. This must include disciplinary consequences for the actions as well as identify the school staff members who received reports of the alleged bullying.

The State of Pennsylvania and the Department of Education defines bullying as “an intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act or a series of acts that occur in a school setting and:

  • Is severe, persistent or pervasive
  • Is directly towards one or more other students
  • Seriously disrupts or impedes a child’s education
  • Creates a dangerous environment for the student
  • Substantially interferes with the peaceful operation of the school

As the definition covers electronic actions, school staff is required to address matters of cyber bullying if they are brought to their attention by students, parents, or other staff. Federal law requires schools to investigate the matter and take action to prevent it from happening again. Any failure to do so may allow parents to step forward and pose a civil lawsuit to make sure the school does its job. 

Contact our Firm

Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.

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