The New Hampshire Supreme Court and 8 newspapers invite students to enter the 2014 Constitution Day Essay Contest and discuss a topic that tests the potential limits of our right to free speech: cyberbullying.
In 2004, Congress directed that “Constitution Day” should be observed in schools on Sept. 17 with educational programs about the history and signing of the Constitution. Newspapers serving New Hampshire schools have joined the state Supreme Court and Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications to present an essay contest for students in grades 5-8 and 9-12.
Constitution Day essay topic and rules
Considering the significance of our constitutional right to free speech, please discuss whether punishment or other consequences should be imposed on someone who conveys hurtful comments about another person via social media or cellphone texting (cyberbullying), what those ramifications might be, and who should impose them.
Essays must be 350-500 words and submitted by Oct. 6 to one of the participating newspapers. The student must live in that newspaper’s circulation area.
Participating newspapers are: the Concord Monitor, Derry News, Foster’s Daily Democrat, The Keene Sentinel, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, Nashua Telegraph, New Hampshire Union Leader and Portsmouth Herald. Each newspaper will select up to two local winners from grades 5-8 and up to two local winners from grades 9-12.
The local winners become statewide finalists. The state Supreme Court will select one statewide winner in each category from among the finalists.
All statewide finalists, their families and teachers will be honored at a reception at the state Supreme Court in November.
For complete rules, research links and a required entry form, please visit: http://www.courts.state.nh.us/student/contest.htm
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Some things to think about
In view of the potential impact of hurtful comments conveyed through social media and texting, should our First Amendment rights become more limited? How?
What is a school’s role in both protecting free speech and protecting students from cyberbullying?
What responsibility, if any, do students have to take action when they witness cyberbullying?
Is it still true that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”?