Bullying is a hot issue throughout the nation right now, and North Carolina has joined other states in passing anti-bullying measures. While many anti-bullying laws focus on protecting children and teens, a new North Carolina statute addresses school teachers being bullied by students.
North Carolina recently passed a new cyberbullying law which makes it a crime for students to use a computer to intentionally intimidate or torment school employees. Juveniles charged with cyberbullying may face jail time or a $1,000 fine.
The law prohibits juveniles from creating fake online profiles, posting fake or edited pictures of school employees and registering a teacher for access to a porn site.
Lawmakers who supported and helped pass the law said that students need to be held accountable. Supporters of the law also noted that one out of five teachers have reported being harassed online by a student.
Those opposed to the new state law include the ACLU of North Carolina, which in a statement said that the new law limits free speech. The ALCU stated that the new law may cause students not to post anything at all, restricting their free speech rights as well as keeping legitimate complaints about teachers hidden from the public.
The ACLU also said that the new law does not define what “intimidate” and “torment” mean under the law, making it difficult for students to know what may violate the law. The Constitution guarantees free speech rights to students and adults, and many opponents worry that this new law may give too much power to law enforcement due to the vague definitions in the law.
Source: FOX Charlotte, “Teacher Cyberbullying As Crime Targets Speech,” Israel Balderas, Sept. 26, 2012
Our firm handles criminal issues regarding students and juveniles who have been accused of violating the law discussed in this post. To learn more about our Raleigh, North Carolina, practice, please visit the Criminal Defense page of our website.