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Should Alabama schools regulate cyberbullying?

In common terms, cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place when kids face threats, putdowns, discrimination or derogatory language via email, social media or other forms of electronic communication.

As electronic communication continues to increase in popularity, in the minds of many, cyberbullying is to a greater and greater extent supplanting the traditional schoolyard bullying as the predominant form of bullying. This is particularly scary since cyberbullying can, in the real world, take place at anytime, anywhere.

It does not necessarily have to happen at school while there is always a chance that a teacher or administrator may see it.

In Alabama, schools must have policies and procedures to prevent and punish cyberbullying. Thankfully, the law gives school districts both the authority and the responsibility to deal with cyberbullying even when it occurs off campus and outside of the normal hours of the school.

As with other forms of bullying, the school must have concrete, fact-based procedures to identify and prevent cyberbullying, as well as a process for taking reports and investigating them. If it turns out cyberbullying did take place, the school must also have definite discipline procedures in place to punish or deter the perpetrators.

It is important for Mobile parents to recognize that these are not simply guidelines or good ideas. They are in fact legal requirements that schools must follow for the good of those whom they serve.

As a first step in getting a school to live up to these obligations, a parent or student may need to file a formal complaint about the bullying with the appropriate school official. At a certain point in the process, it may be important to get the help of an experienced attorney.

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