With the increase in technology, cyberbullying is unfortunately becoming more common, especially among school age children. Cyberbullying refers to a situation where a person uses technology to threaten, intimidate, harm or harass another person.
Cyberbullying generally occurs through interactions over cell phones (texting, photo sharing, other apps), social media platforms or other interactive Internet sites. The behavior is usually repetitive, persistent and damaging to the victim.
Some common examples of cyberbullying are:
- Spreading rumors or lies;
- Sharing naked pictures of someone without their consent;
- Threatening to hurt someone; and
Some states have even found parents liable for their child’s cyberbullying. However, this is still a very gray area of the law. Regardless, parents should talk to their kids about cyberbullying so they are aware of the serious effects it can cause.
Whether it’s long-term psychological damage on the victim, or the victim takes their life due to the harassment, bullying has many serious consequences that are not always readily apparent.
The effects of cyberbullying can be very serious and have sadly have resulted in suicides. In response to this epidemic, many states have enacted cyberbullying laws. Currently, all 50 states have some form of anti-bullying law.
Some specifically mention cyberbullying. However, the ones that do not specifically mention it contain language that cover cyberbullying offenses. Additionally, 42 of the states have model policies in place to provide guidance to school districts about dealing with bullying.
Below is a quick overview of the cyberbullying laws by state:
|State||Anti-Bullying Law?||Laws Cover Cyberbullying?||Policy?|
Keep in mind that some states will also impose criminal penalties for cyberbullying, especially when injury, stalking or death is involved.
Often, children can hide their online actions and behaviors and for the most parts, their parents can be unaware of any wrongdoing. However, this does not absolve parents of any liability for their child’s behavior.
Under the eyes of the law, parents are expected to be aware of their children’s behavior, especially any illegal activity. While cyberbullying might not be akin to first degree murder, it is a serious issue that the states are determined to stop.
If the parent is confronted with the fact that their child is bullying another, then they have an obligation to find out if it is true. While it might be difficult to accept that your child is a bully, you have a moral (and sometimes legal) responsibility to ensure that your child doesn’t harm another. Especially to the point where the other child suffers from permanent injury or death.
You may need to hire a local personal injury attorney if your child was harmed as a result of cyberbullying. You could have a civil case against the school district or a criminal case against the offender if the action is serious and your state allows for it.
On the other side of things, if you are facing criminal charges for cyberbullying or cyberstalking, you should contact a criminal attorney near you to figure out your next steps.