The Des Moines Register: Anti-Bullying Legislation Goes Too Far

It isn’t very often when I agree with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board so I try to make a practice of pointing out when we do agree.

We both believe the anti-bullying bill being considered in the Iowa Legislature goes too far.  They write:

Lawmakers are right to encourage school officials to create a safe environment for all students in Iowa schools. But there is a limit on how far school officials should be expected to go in policing the behavior of young people.

The bill would give school officials authority to enforce anti-bullying policies outside school boundaries, not just at school-sponsored events but at “any other location or circumstance if the act or conduct at issue directly affects the good order, efficient management, and welfare of the school.”

That could mean an endless expansion of the world where school officials are responsible for monitoring student conduct, adding to already burdensome administrative responsibilities.

The bill would expand the definition of bullying to include communications on social networking sites on the Internet and “any other form of communication using electronic means.” In other words, schools would be responsible for what students say to and about each other on Facebook and other social networking sites. This raises serious First Amendment concerns.

The language they cite was actually amended language in the House bill, and while it is better and even seems reasonable it still contain potential loopholes which could cause problems.  As I’ve said before while I’m sure there are changes that can be made to this legislation it would be best to just shoot it down.

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

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