New Jersey School Harassment Attorneys
Cyber bullying is actionable under our New Jersey Discrimination laws when there is an otherwise illegal “flavor” to the bullying, such as might be motivated by concerns of sex and/or gender, which in turn might include castigating students who don’t wish to participate in sexual conduct, for being sexually “suspect” in their behaviors or inclinations, which might take on homophobic aspects, racial aspects, religious aspects, ethnic aspects, etc.
For more information about sexual harassment and sexual orientation harassment, see these links:
“Cyber” harassment and bullying in and of itself is not necessarily actionable under our discrimination law, but when the internet and other technology is used to advance a discriminatory or harassing agenda, or to make even more damaging or humiliating types of actionable harassment (such as sexual orientation, racial or otherwise), it is particularly devastating.
Today, technology is both our friend and our greatest enemy. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and other sites, combined with photo shopping technology of an increasingly sophisticated level and ease of use, produce the opportunity to falsely depict students in all sorts of compromising positions and conduct, to spread rumors and innuendo about students instantly to an entire school population, and to socially isolate students without any of this conduct occurring on school grounds.
Leaving aside those events where students actually “hack” students “My Space” or “Facebook” pages, the non-illegal use of social networking and photo shopping technology can be devastating.
Students have nowhere to turn. Both the internet and the in-school environment have become completely hostile. They are without allies or assets, because the allies fear to come to their rescue and perhaps the students even fear to go to their own families because of worries about the perceptions others might come to hold about the students’ sexual inclinations or proclivities.
This can produce all of the effects that sexual or sexual orientation harassment and bullying can produce such as self-destructive behavior, social and psychological illness and suicide.
Just because the bullying doesn’t occur on school grounds, doesn’t mean school officials aren’t responsible to deter it and stop it. Cyber bullying by students arising from in-school relationships is actionable because the school still has control despite the fact that the harassers are doing the bullying from their own homes and on their own time. School officials sometimes fail to appreciate that responsibility under the law, as do administration officials, and it’s up to the law to make sure your children are protected.
Failure to respond to your child’s complaints or your complaints about cyber bullying when it has discriminatory elements, can be a violation of New Jersey law for which the school districts and boards can be held responsible in compensatory and punitive damages. As well, attorneys’ fees are capturable for successful litigants.
Costello & Mains is one of the leading firms in New Jersey protecting students in the educational environment from sexual harassment, sexual orientation harassment, racial and ethnic harassment and cyber bullying. If you feel that your child is being cyber bullied or that technology is being used to castigate, humiliate and abuse your child (either on or off school grounds), contact Costello & Mains at 856 727-9700 to talk with one of our attorneys about your case.