Journal article Open Access

Cyber bullying: Clarifying Legal Boundaries for School Supervision in Cyberspace

Shariff, Shaheen; Hoff, Dianne L.


Cyber bullying is a psychologically devastating form of social cruelty among adolescents. This paper reviews the current policy vacuum of the legal obligations and expectations of schools to monitor and supervise online discourse, while balancing student safety, education, and interaction in virtual space. The paper opens with a profile and conditions of cyber bullying using an analogy to Golding’s (1954), Lord of the Flies. The anarchy and deterioration of unsupervised adolescent relationships depicted in the book are compared to the deterioration of social relationships among adolescents in virtual space. A discussion of the institutional responses to cyber bullying follows. Finally, emerging and established law is highlighted to provide guidelines to help schools reduce cyber bullying through educational means that protect students and avoid litigation.

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