Fox News: Anti-Bullying Policies Limit Conservatives' Free Speech

Fox News attacked efforts to restrict school bullying by describing them as attempts to limit conservative free speech and misrepresenting a study on the effectiveness of certain anti-bullying programs.

During the October 20 edition of America's News HQ, Fox's resident pro-discrimination crusader Shannon Bream invited Fox News contributor David Webb and radio host Mark Levine to discuss whether efforts to combat school bullying “suppress” conservative students' right to free speech:

As Levine points out, both Bream and Webb fail to distinguish between acts of bullying - which typically target an individual and involve personal attacks - and purely political speech. It's unclear how a student speaking in favor of the Second Amendment would be punished under a school's anti-bullying policy so long as he or she avoided making threats of violence against other students.

Bream also grossly mischaracterizes a recent University of Texas, Arlington study, which found that certain school programs to combat bullying might backfire by teaching students new ways to bully their peers. Both Bream and Webb cite the study as proof that anti-bullying policies are cumbersome and generally ineffective.

In reality, however, the authors of the UT Arlington study stated that their findings should be used to develop more aggressive and sophisticated anti-bullying efforts:

The study suggested that future direction should focus on more sophisticated strategies rather than just implementation of bullying prevention programs along with school security measures such as guards, bag and locker searches or metal detectors. Furthermore, given that bullying is a relationship problem, researchers need to better identify the bully-victim dynamics in order to develop prevention policies accordingly, [Seokjin Jeong, lead author of the study,] said.

The study also found that a lack of supportive involvement from teachers increased the risk of bullying victimization, further highlighting the importance of school involvement in efforts to combat bullying.

Fox's segment comes just days after the network appeared to participate in Spirit Day, an event meant to show support for victims of anti-LGBT bullying. The network has a history of downplaying or ignoring the impact of bullying against LGBT youth and mocking attempts to protect students from harassment at school.