Free Speech Rights of Students Present "Cyber-Troubles"

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The United State Supreme Court, in the 1969 decision of Tinker v. DeMoines Independent Community School District, recognized that children have a 1st Amendment right to free speech in the school environment. In Tinker, the Court held that three high school students had the constitutional right to express their disagreement with the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to class. The Court ruled that the speech was passive, political speech, and essentially victimless. Accordingly the 1st Amendment protects student speech, as long as students did not materially and substantial interrupt the educational process or invade the rights of others.

Since Tinker, school systems have been faced with much more complex issues. Student now uses social media such as MySpace and Facebook, daily to gossip with fellow classmates or meet new people. Some students even generate their own websites and host discussion blogs or post web content online. Obviously, the cyber world creates "cyber-troubles" for school districts. Unfortunately, schools find an increasing amount of student internet content offensive or even threatening to other students and school staff. So, what can districts do to combat the emerging world of student cyber-troubles?

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Published In: Constitutional Law Updates, Education Updates, Science, Computers & Technology Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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