Cyber-bullying is the use of continually evolving Internet and cellular technology, combined with smart devices such as camera phones, to torment and humiliate a child in school without ever having to touch him or her or even confront him or her face to face.
Human beings weren’t designed to avoid face-to-face confrontation. The way we understand and communicate with one another goes far beyond the verbal. Human beings are engineered, even unconsciously, to pick up on facial intonation, body posture and sometimes even smell, in interpreting unspoken communication. We’re also essentially all pretty good people and there’s a limit to what we’ll do to harm someone else standing in front of us.
Regrettably, the Internet and smart camera phones have made it possible to avoid the face-to-face accountability, an in-built restraint that most human beings have, even “tweens” and teenagers. Therefore, technology has made it easier than ever to torment someone from a distance, at the touch of a button, and without any real emotional accountability at the time.
The employment, civil and school rights attorneys at Costello, Mains & Silverman, LLC, strive to stay abreast of state and federal court decisions in this area of the law, including legal precedents which prohibit school boards from pretending that they “can’t do anything” about cyber-bullying. School boards do have an affirmative obligation to investigate and deter cyber-bullying, even when the cyber-bullying is occurring off school grounds and outside of any school intranet over which the school has direct control. The school still has an obligation, when the bullying interferes with the education rights of the victim, to deter the conduct by using traditional and escalating disciplinary measures, up to and including expulsion for the violators.
There’s being “out in front” of an issue, and then there’s being the very spearhead of that issue. The law firm of Costello, Mains & Silverman, LLC, is singularly unique in the State of New Jersey for attacking these problems in court, holding school boards accountable for preventing or failing to investigate cyber-bullying. We’re at the forefront of advocacy and education to school professionals, health professionals and parents in understanding this technical and developing area of the law.