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Appropriate Use of Social Media and Cell Phones Karen Haase Harding & Shultz (402) 434-3000 H & S School Law @KarenHaase

Raise your hand if …  You have a cell phone  You use text messaging  You’ve taken photos with a cell phone camera  You’ve ever forwarded a message  You have a Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter account

What’s Wrong with Cell Phones?  Nothing!  Cell phones are useful tools when used appropriately and with good judgment

What’s Wrong with Facebook?  Again, nothing!  Facebook is just like a cell phone – you have to use good judgment.

So how do kids get in trouble with technology?  Cyberbullying  Sexting  Ignoring Internet Safety

Cyberbullying? Cyberbullying, v: the use of technology such as computers and cell phones to engage in repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.

Cyberbullying Example of cyberbullying on iChat (Apple’s instant messaging)

Divagirl: Hey, loser, watch your back. tmt323: What r u talking about? Divagirl: Why don't you kill yourself while u r ahead? tmt323: Why can't you just leave me alone? Divagirl: Ugly girls like u need to be put in their place.

How Common is Cyberbullying?  one in four students between the ages of 11 and 19 have been the victim of cyberbullying.  Approximately 65 percent of kids know of someone who has been cyberbullied.

So what’s the big deal?

School-Related Consequences  Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-2,137  Definition: “ongoing pattern of physical, verbal or electronic abuse”  Consequences: • Loss of extracurricular privileges • Detentions • Short and Long Term Suspension • Expulsion • Alternative School Assignment

Examples  Seattle, WA.: Students who “liked” Facebook page bullying a classmate all suspended  Memphis TN: Honors student suspended for 180 days for commenting on a friend’s status

Civil Consequences  Student and parents can be sued • Suing for money; no jail time • Homeowners insurance often pays • Judgments can result in home foreclosure and other hardship  Suit can be for: • Intentional infliction of emotional distress • Tortuous interference • Slander

Cutler v. Morales (Nev.)  Middle School student bullied • Made mean comments in school • Called her "Oompa Loompa" and "Dora the Explorer“ on FB and Twitter • Vandalized her house

 She sued five families  $10,00 0 per incident

Boston v. Doe (Ga. 2012)  “Fatbook” Profile

Boston v. Doe (Ga. 2012)  “Fatbook” Profile • Languages • Hobbies • Fake stories • YouTube Videos  School didn’t punish  Sued creators

Criminal Consequences for Cyberbullying  Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-311.01  Terroristic Threats: “threatens to commit any crime of violence … • With the intent to terrorize another • In reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror  Class IV Felony punishable by: • Up to 5 years in prison and/or • $10,000 fine

In re Minor Child (Ala.)  High school students arrested at school for threatening classmate on MySpace • Threatened to beat him up • Said they would plant a bomb in his locker • Said he deserved to die

 Charged with making terroristic threats

State v. Murphy (NE)  Girl’s family disliked defendant  On MySpace he wrote: • He was going to "beat the hell out of a lot of people" • He would be "killing a lot of people.“ • Told girlfriend’s sister he didn’t “want to end up killing her or her kid.”

 Charged with terroristic threats


Sexting? Sexting, v: (a combination of sex and texting) is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones.

How Common is Sexting?  Sexually suggestive photos sent: • 20% overall • 22% girls • 11% young teen girls (ages 1316) • 18 % boys

How Common is Sexting?  Sexually suggestive messages sent: • 39% of all teens • 37% girls • 40% boys  48% of teens say they have received sexting photos or messages.


Serious Consequences: Hope Witsell

Criminal Implications Under Nebraska Law  Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-813 et. Seq.  Makes sexting (images) a class IV felony for offenders under 19  Class IIIA felony for 19 and up  Both punishable by: • Up to 5 years in prison and/or • $10,000 fine • Require sex offender registration

In re Katrina R.  15 year old texted nude pics to her BF  Was adjudicated “a child who deports herself so as to injure or endanger seriously the morals or health of herself or others” • Placed in legal custody of HHS • 6 months’ probation • Required counseling and community service.

Internet Safety

Wisconsin v. Stancl  High school student posed as a girl, tricked male classmates into sending nude photos  Then blackmailed boys who sent the pictures  Thirty-one victims

So What DOES Belong on Your Phone or Profile/Page?

Just ask your Grandma

The Grandma Rule:  If you wouldn’t’ show it to your Grandma, don’t photograph it!  If you wouldn’t write it to your Grandma, don’t text it!  If you wouldn’t tell you Grandma about it, don’t post it!  If you wouldn’t say it to your Grandma, don’t say it during a cell phone call!


Questions? (402) 499-0547 H & S School Law @KarenHaase

Kenesaw 5-8 grade  
Kenesaw 5-8 grade