City's war on cyber jibes

4th August 2006 at 01:00
UNITED STATES. New York city students had better mind their Ps and Qs online if education chiefs adopt stiff penalties for pupils posting derogatory comments about teachers or classmates on the web.

A new disciplinary code for pupils, to be voted on next week, calls for "posting libellous or defamatory material... or material containing a (physical) threat" on the internet to be met with sanctions.

These range from calling a meeting with parents - in the case of pupils still in primary school - to possible expulsion for teenagers.

"It would mean anything like, 'Mr Smith is a real you-know-what' or 'I'm going to kick so-and-so's butt after school'," said New York schools spokesman Keith Kalb.

New York's proposals follow similar edicts enacted across America recently to address an increase in the number of students issuing insults and threats and lampooning staff on "social networking" websites such as

"Schools are struggling to deal with this phenomenon," said Steve Jones, communications professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

In May, one Chicago education authority decreed that students would forfeit their right to participate in extra-curricular activities if they were "maintaining or being identified on a blog site which depicts illegal or inappropriate behaviour".

New York's crackdown would not involve staff trawling the internet for offending material. Instead, it would be "complaint-driven", Mr Kalb said.

But Mr Jones warned: "You're going to have people filing all kinds of complaints that they'll have to follow up."

Mr Kalb said online harassment was just as serious as harassment in person.

"We wouldn't let someone do that in the real world, so why let them do it in the cyberworld?"

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today