In the wake of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd’s heart wrenching YouTube video and subsequent suicide (reported on here), much has been written about social media’s impact on Todd’s plight. Since her death on October 10, users have continued to post hateful messages on a Facebook page, justifying their cruelty with “freedom of speech” claims.
Yesterday, a Canadian journalist wrote an article discussing Canadian New Democratic Party’s MP Dany Morin’s response to the Amanda Todd tragedy. Speaking to Canada’s House of Commons yesterday, which had the opportunity to consider new legislation addressing cyberbullying, Morin stated: “Nowadays, with cyberbullying, with social media, it has gotten to a breaking point.” Speaking of his own high school experience, Morin, who is gay, noted that though bullying existed, Facebook and other means of social media didn’t exist. With social media, there is no break from the bullying – it’s 24/7.
Todd’s death, which made international headlines, highlights how cyberbullying has been exacerbated by social media. As previously reported, school administrators have acted swiftly, hosting seminars and training sessions for parents, students, and faculty members, in an attempt to educate authority figures on how best to recognize and combat bullying. State legislatures are enacting laws aimed exclusively at cyberbullying, or amending online harassment laws to encompass the specific area of cyberbullying. But the law continues to remain murky, wrapped up in freedom of speech and First Amendment concerns.
It is important, if you have concerns about bullying against yourself or a loved one that can only be resolved through legal action, to consult with an attorney experienced in the complicated maze of education law. If you do have questions, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., in our Westport office, at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com.