Campbell, M. (2011). School policy responses to the issue of cyber-bullying. Journal of Catholic School Studies,83(2), 62-69. Australia: Australian Catholic University.
Cyber-bullying and related student acts are increasingly becoming the concern of schools. There exists a need for schools to make a considered response to these issues. In formulating policy responses it is of benefit to schools to consider their legal responsibilities with respect to these acts, alongside balancing community concerns and moral responsibilities. Often the policy position in response to cyber-bullying is to ban student use of social networking, and high risk websites. However, such a policy position may be considered to be over reactive, and contrary to the educational utility of these technologies. 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. 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. 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. 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 policy 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 to an extent that it becomes detrimental to their learning.
School of Education
Open Access Journal Article