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July 05, 2012

Arizona Schools Receive IT Discounts in Exchange for Hosting Cyberbully Awareness Seminars

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer

Children under 13 use Facebook despite the social network’s policy that users must meet the specified age requirement. They also have iPhones.

But just because children have access to technological tools designed for adults doesn’t mean they comprehend the consequences of their virtual misdeeds.

The cyberbullying phenomenon has sparked debates at school board meetings across the U.S. One of the issues concerning parents and educators is whether or not cyberbullying should be illegal. The next issue involves the school’s role in cyberbullying situations that occur after school hours.

An attorney involved in a more controversial issue contended that in a situation where an eighth grade girl sends nude pictures of herself to her boyfriend via her iPhone (News - Alert), involving law enforcement is not the appropriate course of action for teachers of principals to take. Why? Law enforcement, she argues, is too harsh and pragmatic for children. They will have to prosecute the child as though she is a sex offender, essentially treating the 13-year-old like the predators that these laws are in place to protect.

But more often than not, middle school principals opt to contact the police in similar situations. This scenario sheds light on the fact that dealing with the cyber mishaps of children is complicated.

Until laws are established that clarify the level of involvement expected of schools in situations of cyber-related misconduct, hosting classroom seminars that educate students about the consequences is one way to address the situation. Not all states are like Indiana, a state that permits schools to punish students that engage in cyberbullying, even if their misconduct occurred after the last bell of the school day rings.

In Arizona, advocates of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) offer incentive for schools to host seminars and upgrade Internet polices that stem from 10 years ago. In exchange for their cooperation of spreading cyberbullying awareness, participating schools will receive discounts on IT services. According to reports, the discount could be the only means by which smaller school districts receive Internet access at all.

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Edited by Braden Becker

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