August 29, 2014 Leave a comment
The Kentucky Supreme Court recently addressed the issue of using offensive text messages as a form of bullying in a case out of McCracken County in Beasley v. Com., 2011-SC-000129-MR (Ky. 2012) It was determined that the “content of the messages themselves tends to show that such communication served no legitimate purpose and reflected [the Defendant’s] intent to intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm.” The case deals with the subject of harassing communications which is forbidden by KRS 525.080
The Supreme Court case did not involve school bullying. But it does raise the subject of how offensive text messages and other forms of electronic communication can be addressed by schools since texting is so pervasive among school students.
According to this article in The Kentucky Law Journal published by the University of Kentucky College of Law, the legislature should empower school officials to tackle the subject of cyberbullying. Schools are already required to develop student conduct policies as described in KRS 158.148 The author of the Kentucky Law Journal article believes that Kentucky’s General Assembly needs to enact an amended version of the school conduct statute to address geographical limitations related to off-campus harassment and that the law also needs to provide a definition of cyberbullying. The author believes that such changes would recognize that the existing geographical limitations might be inadequate for schools to provide a safe and productive learning environment.
Regardless of what the General Assembly decides to do, rapid innovations mean that technology is often advancing more rapidly than the law … and that means that the law will frequently be faced with playing catch-up in order to keep pace with new technology in order to prevent its misuse.