Cyber-Bullying Goes South
Law-enforcement authorities would like to have a little chat with the individuals who started a MySpace.com website featuring inflamatory gossip about the students in Georgia high school:
ATHENS, Ga. - Authorities are searching for whomever posted a long list and description of supposed sexual encounters between dozens of high school students on the online networking site MySpace.com.I think of this as a sort of "cyber-bullying" in which students use the internet to anonymously lob "verbal bombs" at peers and staff who they do not like.
Oconee County Sheriff's officials said they were investigating who posted the gossip about North Oconee High School students Sept. 1-9. Since gossip isn't a crime, the sheriff's report lists the offense as distributing obscene materials to minors. The list describes sexual encounters and could be accessed by people younger than 18.
"There's a lot of difference between writing on a bathroom wall and distributing it all over the world on the Internet where anyone has access to it," Lt. David Kilpatrick told the Athens Banner-Herald for a story published Sunday.
Students argued with one another, disrupting classes, when most found out about the MySpace blog, said principal John Osborne.
Kilpatrick said that MySpace gave him the e-mail address of the person who created the site, but that it was an anonymous Yahoo account. He said he would subpoena BellSouth, the Internet service provider used to create the e-mail address, to try to determine who paid for the Internet service.
Any student found to have created the site could be expelled because the school's conduct code covers off-campus behavior that affects school life, Osborne said. He said they might also face lawsuits from parents of students cited in the postings.
Look for an increase in this sort of activity.
In spite of Principal Osborn's statements to the contrary, the schools have little ability to hold those responsible accountable.
This is because most, if not all, of the provocative material is being published off campus.
And any school that does punish students for statements made off-campus is apt to get a nasty shock in the form of a lawsuit.