One of the questions we field sometimes involves how private schools differ from public schools in their response to instances of cyberbullying and student misuse of technology. A case from a private Michigan college illustrates the general distinction that we’ve seen. In this situation, a 19-year-old male was placed on six-month probation after being accused of posting a crude sexual message on Facebook about his ex-girlfriend. This punishment will force him to wait a year to continue his education at the same institution. Largely speaking, private schools can exercise much discretion in these cases, allowing them to enact a penalty that may seem unreasonable and without complete merit (in this situation, the school authorities do not have incontrovertible evidence that the accused actually committed the act – he claims that his Facebook account password was stolen and exploited towards this end). It is interesting that college administrators referenced integrity and values when providing some reasoning behind the sanction. When we have worked with private schools (and colleges), reference is often made to a general honor code to which students informally or formally agree – and offline or online peer harassment is clearly a violation to this honor code and therefore warrants some measure of discipline. I believe this is the best way to go. I’m going to generalize a bit here, but we’ve found that sometimes in public schools students thumb their noses at the rules and it is often perceived as “cool” to break them. In private schools, however, there tends to be a larger shared perception among the student body that the honor code is something to be respected, and it is definitely “not cool” to transgress it. Not cool at all. I like that. I wish we had better success promoting such a worldview in the public school system.