Nebraska State Bar Foundation

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News Law Day Essay Contest Asks About Problem of Cyber-Bullying

Law Day Essay Contest Asks About Problem of Cyber-Bullying

Following this year's LRE theme, "Democracy and the Digital Age of Media," leaders of LRE and Media Subcommittees of the Foundation's PEOPLE Committee, created a Law Day Essay Contest question that addresses the problem of cyber-bullying. The question follows.

A bill introduced in the Nebraska Unicameral this year defines cyber-bullying as: "Any ongoing use of electronic mail, text messaging, social networking websites, or any other form of electronic communication on or off school grounds, with the intention of causing harm or serious emotional distress to students or school personnel."

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part: Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...
And Article I, Section 5 of the Nebraska Constitution reads:
Every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty; and in all trials for libel, both civil and criminal, the truth when published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, shall be a sufficient defense.

QUESTION: Keeping in mind our Constitutional protections against government restricting our free speech, what should the Nebraska legislature do about cyber-bullying?

Invitations to participate in the contest have been mailed to over 2,000 Social Studies and Language Arts teachers for 8th through 12th graders. Entries are due to the Bar Foundation by March 25 after which time they will be judged by members of the PEOPLE (Public Education and Outreach Promoting Law & Equity) Committee. Winners from each grade level will be recognized at a Law Day Luncheon in Lincoln in May 2. The Omaha law firm of McGrath North Mullin and Kratz is offering a 10-day scholarship to the National Student Leadership Conference, valued at $2,595. The scholarship will be awarded at the luncheon to one of the essay contest winners from grades 9 through 12.

The Law Day Essay Contest, cosponsored by the Bar Foundation and the Nebraska Supreme Court, observes its twelfth season in 2011.


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