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October 27, 2012

‘Cyberbullying’ to be addressed in school’s bullying policy

CLAREMORE — The Claremore Board of Education has decided to implement cyberbullying into the school district’s bullying policy.

Cyberbullying is described as anyone using communication technology to support deliberate or repeated hostile behavior.  It is many times anonymous and can rapidly become more intense as countless unknown others join in.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL), Bullying/Cyberbullying Law, almost half of all U.S. teens are affected by some type of cyberbullying.

In 2009, Oklahoma enacted a form of legislation.  The laws require schools to create and implement policies that give schools the power to discipline students for cyber-behaviors.

“We already have a policy for bullying, but with events taking place involving cyberbullying obligations, we need to create a new way to maintain safety for our students,” said Claremore Superintendent Mike McClaren.

McClaren said the biggest change being made includes the consequences of bullying through electronic communication such as text messaging and Facebook.

The major issue confronting the state legislation, is whether or not they can discipline students for behaviors occurring off campus.  Currently, the statute extends beyond school grounds but only for activities either sponsored by or associated with the school.

In the ADL law, the league states that a school’s right to maintain a safe learning environment must be balanced with a student’s right to privacy and free speech.  

According to ADL’s law, school policies should at a minimum, contain a statement prohibiting cyberbullying and a procedure for providing immediate notification to the parents or guardian of a victim or perpetrator.  The law also states that school’s should contain a statement that the policy will apply to electronic communication whether or not the conduct began on school property or with school equipment, so long as the effect of the incident is insulting or demeaning to a student or student group.

The Claremore school board plans to hold a special meeting towards the end of November to discuss the cyberbullying issue in detail.

“It is a big and relatively new topic which we will attack appropriately,” said McClaren.

Deadline for implementing the policy is set for Dec. 10.


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