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North Carolina cyberbullying law targets students

Bullying has become a major issue across the U.S. Recent stories of students bullying each other have been heartbreaking for many teenagers and their families. To prevent the devastating impact of bullying, North Carolina has passed a law to prevent cyberbullying but the law doesn't protect who most would assume.

North Carolina passed an anti-bullying law called The School Violence Prevention Act of 2012, which makes it illegal for students to bully teachers online. Starting December 1 this year, students who cyberbully, intimidate or threaten a school employee or teacher will be charged with a misdemeanor under this new law.

The state passed the law to target the increased reports of students bullying teachers in online environments. More teachers are victims of cyberbullying because it is easier for students to post about their teachers online, with many students claiming they didn't do anything wrong and are only practicing their right to free speech, according to a Bully Statistics report.

Students found guilty of cyberbullying a school employee will face a $1,000 fine or jail time. Activities that are considered cyberbullying under North Carolina's law include posting doctored pictures, creating a fake profile to bully an employee and signing a school employee up at a pornography website.

Supporters of the new law say that students need to be held accountable for their actions and that online statements and posts have the same effect as something printed in a newspaper about a teacher.

While many support the new law, those opposed include the ACLU of North Carolina. Opponents of the law feel that it limits free speech and doesn't define all aspects of the law, leaving too much room for interpretation for law enforcement and judges.

Either way, students in North Carolina will need to be careful about what they post online as they may face cyberbullying charges under the state's new law.

Source: VOXXI, "NC, first state to make student cyberbullying of teachers a crime," Hope Gillette, Oct. 31, 2012

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