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Cyber Bully

Cyber Bully

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Published by pandoeditorial
Cyber Bully
Cyber Bully

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Published by: pandoeditorial on Jul 08, 2014
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07/26/2014

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================================================================= This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision beforepublication in the New York Reports.-----------------------------------------------------------------No. 139  The People &c., Respondent, v.Marquan M., Appellant. ______________________________County of Albany, Intervenor-Respondent.Corey Stoughton, for appellant. Thomas Marcelle, for intervenor-respondent County of Albany.Advocates for Children of New York et al., amicicuriae.GRAFFEO, J.:Defendant, a 15-year-old high school student,anonymously posted sexual information about fellow classmates ona publicly-accessible internet website. He was criminallyprosecuted for "cyberbullying" under a local law enacted by the- 1 -
 
- 2 -No. 139Albany County Legislature. We are asked to decide whether thiscyberbullying statute comports with the Free Speech Clause of theFirst Amendment.IBullying by children in schools has long been aprevalent problembut its psychological effects were not studiedin earnest until the 1970s (see Hyojin Koo, A Time Line of theEvolution of School Bullying in Differing Social Contexts, 8 AsiaPacific Educ Rev 107 [2007]). Since then, "[b]ullying amongschool-aged youth" has "increasingly be[en] recognized as animportant problemaffecting well-being and social functioning,"as well as "a potentially more serious threat to healthy youthdevelopment" (Tonja R. Nansel et al., Bullying Behaviors AmongU.S. Youth, 285 Journal of the AmMed Assn 2094 [2001]). At itscore, bullying represents an imbalance of power between theaggressor and victimthat often manifests in behaviors that are"verbal (e.g., name-calling, threats), physical (e.g., hitting),or psychological (e.g., rumors, shunning/exclusion)" (id. at2094; see Koo, supra at 112). Based on the recognized harmfuleffects of bullying, many schools and communities now sponsoranti-bullying campaigns in order to reduce incidents of suchdamaging behaviors.Educators and legislators across the nation haveendeavored to craft policies designed to counter the adverseimpact of bullying on children. New York, for example, enacted- 2 -
 
- 3 -No. 139the "Dignity for All Students Act" in 2010 (see L 2010, ch 482, § 2; Education Law §§ 10 et seq.), declaring that our State must"afford all students in public schools an environment free odiscrimination and harassment" caused by "bullying, taunting orintimidation" (Education Law § 10). In furtherance of thisobjective, the State prohibited discrimination and bullying onpublic school property or at school functions (see Education Law§ 12 [1]). The Act relied on the creation and implementation oschool board policies to reduce bullying in schools through theappropriate training of personnel, mandatory instruction forstudents on civility and tolerance, and reporting requirements(see Education Law § 13). The Act did not criminalize bullyingbehaviors; instead, it incorporated educational penalties such assuspension fromschool. Despite these efforts, the problemof bullyingcontinues, and has been exacerbated by technological innovationsand the widespread dissemination of electronic information usingsocial media sites. The advent of the internet with "twenty-fourhour connectivity and social networking" means that "[b]ullyingthat begins in school follows students home every day" and"bullying through the use of technology can begin away fromschool property" (L 2012, ch 102, § 1). Regardless of how orwhere bullying occurs, it "affects the school environment anddisrupts the educational process, impeding the ability ostudents to learn and too often causing devastating effects on- 3 -

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