STOCKTON, Calif. — In an effort to curb cyberbullying, the Lodi Unified School District in Stockton, Calif., is requiring its high school students to sign a social media contract before they can participate in athletics or other extracurricular activities.
“The contract states ‘profanities or inappropriate language or remarks directed towards teammates, coaches, [and] other students’ will have consequences. The first offense will get a student benched or suspended from a game or meeting,” Sacramento television station Fox40 reported Monday. “The second could mean they are removed from the team or activity for the season.”
Reporting for the Stockton Record newspaper on Monday, Keith Reid wrote, “The policy cracks down on threats towards other people and other bullying techniques. It allows schools to bench athletes or remove students from clubs if officials learn they have posted inappropriate, profane or sexual language on a social media site — or boasted or endorsed illegal or violent activity.”
“Look at all the schools where students say they were bullied,” Bear Creek High School principal Bill Atterberry told Sacramento television station CBS13. “Look at the people that have committed suicide because of bullying. It’s not something we can ignore.”
Even though the Lodi Unified School District’s board approved the social media contract in March, the issue is garnering media attention now because students at Bear Creek High are protesting the policy on constitutional grounds.
“The policy applies to schools throughout the district, but (so far) only students at Bear Creek have spoken out against it,” the advocacy organization Student Press Law Center reported. “Monday after school, about 50 students gathered outside the school to protest. They chanted ‘LUSD, don’t silence me’ and ‘What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!’ ”
Bullied children are twice as likely as their un-bullied peers to spend time in jail as adults, according to a study presented last week at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference.