Sep. 21, 2012 at 1:33 PM ET
Students who do more than bad-mouth teachers, but actually bully them online by posting doctored photos or false information about them, had best not do it in North Carolina. It's now the first state that's made it a crime.
While cyberbullying laws, those protecting students from others students' horrid and hurtful behaviors, are becoming more common nationwide, North Caroina's School Violence Protection Law of 2012 throws the book and the blackboard at students who go after teachers and school employees.
And in North Carolina, it's been a problem, says the Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina, which sought the legislation.
Judy Kidd, the association's president, cited some examples to The Wall Street Journal of the kind of problem the bullying has included: a sixth-grader who sent sexually explicit emails about a teacher to other students; a high school student who posted false allegations on Facebook about an instructor, saying the instructor had touched her inappropriately.
"It became apparent that we had to get some kind of protection," she told the newspaper.
That protection now includes making it against the law for any student to use a computer or computer network "with the intent to intimidate or torment a school employee" by doing the following, including:
The law makes it a misdemeanor to do these acts, and if a student is found guilty, he or she could face up to a $1,000 fine, jail time and possibly being transferred to another school.
The ACLU in North Carolina opposed the legislation, as it was written.
"We expressed our concerns that this would chill online free speech because the words 'intimidate' and 'torment' weren't defined in the statute, and don't really have a clear definition in the law," said Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU in North Carolina.
She said she thinks the law will "invite arbitrary enforcement by officers based on "what they think intimidate and torment means."
Of course, it's not just students who go after teachers. In Arizona, earlier this year, a father admitted to creating a fake porn profile for his son's assistant principal for allegedly taking his son's iPod — an accusation that was never proven. The father was convicted of felony charges of fraud and identity theft. Last month, he was sentenced to three months in jail.
— Via Mashable