Let’s say you have two middle school girls, whom we’ll call JC and CC. They don’t like each other. JC then makes a video of herself and a few other girls calling CC names, and then this video appears on YouTube. Obviously, CC is very upset by this. Perhaps she could create a counter video saying nasty slanderous things about JC. Depending on the former video’s actual content, she may have a case for harassment. In any case, JC is the nasty one here, given what is known anyway. That said… how in the hell is this case any of their school’s business?
The facts in this case arose when J.C., an eighth grade girl, videotaped a group of her friends “talkin’ smack” about their classmate C.C. The video featured this group of kids saying that C.C. was spoiled, and a slut. J.C. then when home and uploaded the video to YouTube, and informed several classmates, including C.C., of the video’s existence.
The next day, C.C. and her mother informed the school of the video’s existence. C.C. also met with a school counselor for no more than half a class period to discuss how she felt humiliated by the video.
School administrators, upon viewing the video, called J.C. out of class, and made her write a statement about the video. The administrators also demanded that J.C. delete the video from YouTube. Upon consultation with the school district’s lawyer, the principal suspended J.C. for two days.
J.C. sued the school district, arguing that the school had violated her First Amendment rights and did not have the authority to discipline her over a video made and viewed off campus.
Having been a victim of middle school bullying myself, I do feel very much for CC’s plight, but then again, I do have to side with JC here in that the school is majorly overstepping its bounds on this issue. YouTube is not under the jurisdiction of Beverly Vista School or any other school district, nor are the private lives and doings of students any of the school’s business.
Because that is the issue here. Schools believe the students’ whole lives are their property. This is far from an isolated case, with one notable one also being Doninger v. Niehoff, where a girl was punished for calling her school officials douchebags on her personal blog. Or the countless cases of students making Facebook groups decrying a teacher or school policy only to show up the next day to find an in-school suspension sentence waiting for them. Hell, my little brother is in kindergarten, and the school officials have the nerve to tell my mother that they don’t think she’s punishing him severely enough for his misbehavior at school (most of which is pointless bullcrap).
I have a message for you, schools: Once the students have departed from school grounds, you have absolutely ZERO to do with their lives! It’s bad enough you try to cram every last second of their lives with useless homework, but when they do manage a free moment away from your invasive tentacles of conformity and obedience, how they spend that time is NO concern of yours! Stay the hell out of it!
I’m terribly sorry CC has to deal with the bullying from JC, and I’m certainly not saying she should not seek to stop it somehow. I encourage her to stand up for herself against her tormenter. But this is an issue between the two of them and not the business of their school, and schools don’t exactly have the best track record of combatting bullying in any real way anyway. Bringing them into it may have seemed like the thing to do, but as we’ve seen in so many other cases, it comes at too terrible a price. Good luck, CC! And, JC, you may have won your case, but if you haven’t done so already, seriously, leave CC alone!