FACEOFF: Should Schools Punish Students for What They Say Outside Of School?

Samantha Elkins and Valentina Arias

No (S.E.)

In this day and age, social media plays a role in almost everything we do; marketing, politics and keeping in touch with friends benefit from it. Students, especially, have grown up with the internet and become accustomed to it, and as with anything used daily, students can make mistakes and cause harm online. Despite that, schools should not punish students for things they say out of school.

Society has taught students that everything should revolve around school. Students should play sports, have a job and volunteer all for one purpose: school. With this on students’ minds all the time, it creates a toxic mindset where students think they should always take on more activities. 

Students turn towards the internet to escape all the pressures of life. Using Pinterest to cultivate their dream life, scrolling through Instagram and keeping in touch with friends through Snapchat helps students relieve stress. Although students use the internet for good, sometimes they say hurtful things to others online.

If this occurs, the school should not punish them because their right to punish students ends once they leave the property and school hours end. 

Schools do not and should not have complete control over students’ lives, such as if they skip curfew or do not clean their room, because school and home life remain separate. If a bullying situation gets too serious, then parents and worst case, the police become involved. The school system remains unequipped to handle such a situation because students already associate school with negativity. 

Parents and other authority figures can handle a case of online bullying much better than schools ever could. If school can punish students for things they say out of school, then they hold power over almost every aspect of a student’s life. Despite going five days a week, with the homework, tests and grades that entails, it seems unfair that they can also punish a student for things that occurred out of school. 

While not condoning online bullying, schools should not handle it and leave parents or other authority figures to deal with it instead.


Yes (V.A.)

Schools should punish students for things they say outside of school. When students actively use racial slurs and bully others outside of school, it is horrific and schools should look into it more. It shows students’ characters and could potentially become an issue within the school if the school does not put a stop to it. 

In the past, students have been degraded with anti-Black, anti-Hispanic, anti-Asian racial slurs and more. These words can deeply hurt a child and make them feel as if they are not good enough and worthless. This should not go through any child’s mind. They should feel proud of who they have become and not feel like anything less. 

Bullying can happen off or online and has unfortunately grown as time goes on. Students find it comedic to make fun of others for their looks, their interests or just about anything these days. Their confidence and view of themselves can decline, which could affect them later in school. A couple of hurtful words can mean nothing to the person who says them, but to the person directed at, it could mean a lot. 

Colleges in the past have revoked students’ acceptance admissions or taken away privileges because of the fact that the student has used racial slurs or bullied fellow peers as a way to degrade others. Schools do this for the students to learn that consequences arise with their actions. Students may believe in these situations the punishment given to them is harsh, but if they knew the wrongfulness of their actions, then they should not have done these things in the first place. They now get upset because someone caught them and now do not have the same privileges as before. 

Schools should involve themselves in these kinds of situations for that reason. Children should receive punishments for their actions and learn from them. If they continue without punishment, they will just continue to hurt other students, since most believe that unless they get caught, that it does not matter and that they did not hurt anyone.

And yes, there are some cases where a student may realize that what they did wrong and stop, but that rare occurrence barely happens nowadays. Also, children are less likely to listen to their parents when it comes to this subject. They likely think of it as a small lesson and continue hurting other children mentally. 

Schools must continue taking action so students understand online bullying is an intolerable and toxic act. Students who have fallen victim to bullying deserve justice for harmful words directed towards them.