A recent study finds that one-third of American teenagers regularly post offensive language or manipulated images on the web, and over 25 percent of these online pranks target teachers and principals. Such hi-jinks are not always a laughing matter. Pupils can do irreparable damage when they falsely accuse their teachers of abuse, for example, so many educators are protecting themselves by taking kids to court. But is calling a lawyer the answer? Contemplate the so-called "Teacher Sux" example in Pennsylvania, in which a high school student posted on a website derogatory comments about a teacher ("she shows off her fat...legs"). The lawsuit claimed that the teacher, after viewing the online material, felt unable "to go out of the house and mingle with crowds." Insult-induced agoraphobia? A bit much, perhaps? Our schools do not need ever more lawyers and lawsuits to descend upon them. Most cases of the "cyber-bullying" of teachers should be handled by school administrators, in a common-sense manner, not in court.
"Teachers strike back at students' online pranks," by Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor, February 25, 2008