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Should Schools Intervene in Facebook Fights?

Hatboro-Horsham School District officials said cyber bullying, regardless if it occurs during school hours would be handled “case by case.”

During the school year, instances of cyber bullying through social media networks like Facebook or Twitter are reported weekly, Superintendent Curtis Griffin said.

Just how often school administrators intervene is something that will continue to be handled “case by case,” Jack Dooley, the district’s attorney said.

In reviewing its existing bullying and cyber bullying policies during Monday night’s meeting, administrators and school board members discussed what role the district should play in cyber bullying, particularly when purported bullying takes place out of school.

“I don’t think we need to be the police and the DA’s office for everybody,” board member Louis Polaneczky said. “Have we done enough to exclude things that really aren’t our jurisdiction?”

Dooley said the issue requires some “nexus” for the school environment.

“It’s not a substitution for the crimes code,” Dooley said. “You may not consider yourselves the government, but you are.”

Griffin said there have been instances where what began as cyber bullying outside of school spilled over and became a school issue. Griffin shared an instance where a student who had been cyber bullied last school year punched the bully when he got off of the school bus.

“We do blur that line every day on the social network issue,” Griffin said. “The middle school is the most difficult.”

According to the district’s bullying and cyber bullying policy, bullying is defined as “an intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act or series of acts directed at another student or students, which occurs in a school setting and/or outside a school setting that is severe, persistent or pervasive.” The policy goes on to say such behavior results in a “substantial interference with a student’s education,” creates a “threatening environment” and causes “substantial disruption of the orderly operation of school.”

Griffin said what constitutes bullying varies from person to person and depends on “the eyes of the receiver.”

“In the old days, someone passed a note,” Griffin said. “Now, that note isn’t paper, it’s electronic.”

To resolve issues before they worsen, Griffin suggested that parents stay abreast to what their kids are doing online and what their Facebook friends and other social media acquaintances are posting.

In terms of athletes, Griffin said the district can and will suspend players from sports programs for failure to follow the district’s code of conduct, which covers behavior inside and outside of school.

rising senior Sean Raymond said anti-bullying efforts should begin much sooner, possibly as soon as first-grade.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of education and cyber bullying,” Raymond said. “We can start dealing with it a lot earlier.”

Liberty 1 August 08, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Anything outside of school is not their business. Perhaps if they paid more attention to the basics government education might improve and taxpayers will get their money's worth.
John Kinniry August 08, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Yeh right..until its Liberty 1's kid being picked on.. then she would call the FBI. Schools should do everything they can to prevent a weaker child from verbal or physical harm. Period the end.
amanda bull August 08, 2012 at 02:26 PM
my kid got beat up outside school but all the kids go to her school she now dont want to go back to school
shame shame August 08, 2012 at 03:25 PM
My daughter was facebooked bullied last year in school calling her all kinds of horrible names with 40 or more kids commenting. I called the school where I was sent to the cyber bulling specialist. He isnt even on facebook...didn't even want to call the parents! Nothing was done. I won't bother calling the school anymore. Its pass the buck. Next time I will deal with it and not even bother calling the school. Such a shame.
Bob August 08, 2012 at 03:50 PM
The Horsham PD and the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office are better able to determine if a crime is being COMMITTED. Isn't that what caused trouble at Penn State University? Students who feel threatened on line should not trust administrators but go directly to the Real Cops.
Bob August 08, 2012 at 03:51 PM
The Horsham PD and the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office are better able to determine if a crime is being COMMITTED. Isn't that what caused trouble at Penn State University? Students who feel threatened on line should not trust administrators but go directly to the Real Cops.
Concerned in Horsham August 08, 2012 at 03:51 PM
"In terms of athletes, Griffin said the district can and will suspend players from sports programs for failure to follow the district’s code of conduct, which covers behavior inside and outside of school." Why are they singling out athletes? I believe the code of conduct covers any student who participates in an extra-curricular activity.
Bob August 08, 2012 at 03:57 PM
The school district might even find traces of cyber bullying on their own computers and start erasing data to Cover their asses. Don't trust Curtis.
Bob August 08, 2012 at 04:04 PM
There was a recent court case that threw out code of conduct requirements for students.
Bob August 08, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Here's a link from a NJ case that may be helpful, It's about code of conduct rules being thrown out http://www.abc27.com/story/19099746/nj-appeals-court-rejects-student-conduct-rules
Liberty 1 August 08, 2012 at 08:14 PM
John, My children I am sure had their moments of being picked on while in school. They were raised to see what bullies were truly like and to respond accordingly. We did not rely on the school to raise our children as so many do, and they know that by running to the "authorities" in order to get their revenge is not the answer. You are a fool to believe that school officials have your best interest in mind. Bob correctly points out the PSU example. The best way to deal with bullies is to do it yourself.
Liberty 1 August 08, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Perhaps the problem is being on facebook in the first place.
Liberty 1 August 08, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Is it because she is embarassed or afraid? The best revenge is often not allowing the perps the satisfaction. What did the ploice say when the assult was reported?
Mike Shortall Sr August 09, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Unfortunately, when kids get bullied outside of school by kids they go to school with, it becomes an issue for those kids, who are bullied, going to school with the kids doing the bullying. If it affects anyone's education, the schools have to get involved. The problem with going to police is that the threshold for them taking action is a much higher than "unacceptable behavior". It doesn't take much to create a hostile environment for a child. If you don't nip it, you end up with bigger - even volent - problems. The objective should be to get the parents involved first to stop the behavior.
Liberty 1 August 09, 2012 at 03:55 PM
My problem with schools getting involved is that they are no good at it. The threshold for the police is high, but the threshold in the schools are getting lower and lower. Anybody who disagrees with someone can claim that they are being bullied verbally. Free speech has been under attack first through the pc police and now "bullying". Unless there is a direct threat to do bodily harm, it is not bullying. Having one's feelings hurt is LIFE. Get over it, quit seeing yourself as a victim. You are right about the parents getting involved. But it is easier just to let the schools or police handle it.
Mike Shortall Sr August 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I'll disagree that bullying requires a "direct threat to do bodily harm". Kids can be vicious little gargoyles when they want, especially in the anonymity of a crowd. An adult's advice to their child might be "Get over it" or "don't be a victim". But not every child is that strong. So what happens to those kids who can't "get over it"? Do you just write them off as weak and useless? That social media stuff leaks into the classroom, so the schools should address it as a barrier to education.
Liberty 1 August 10, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Mike, Kids ARE vicious. That is when parents have to take control. I know not all children are strong enough. Are they weak? Yes. Are they useless? No way. Parents know their kids better then anyone else, or they should, and it is parental guidance that is the best tool to handle hurt feelings. The social media effect again is better to be handled at home. If you allow your middle school child to be on facebook etc. then you should know that trouble is heading your way. Parents should learn to say no to their kids rather then being "like the rest". Our government run educational centers can not teach the basics well enough, let them get that right first.
Stop with the Taxes August 14, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Bob here is a current link http://www.aclu-nj.org/news/2012/07/24/school-overreached-in-punishing

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