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
  • Stalking.

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.

Do All States Have Cyberbullying Laws?

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?
Alabama Yes Yes Yes
Alaska Yes No Yes
Arizona Yes Yes No
Arkansas Yes Yes No
California Yes Yes Yes
Colorado Yes Yes No
Connecticut Yes Yes Yes
Delaware Yes Yes Yes
Florida Yes Yes Yes
Georgia Yes Yes Yes
Hawaii Yes Yes No
Idaho Yes Yes Yes
Illinois Yes Yes Yes
Indiana Yes Yes Yes
Iowa Yes Yes Yes
Kansas Yes Yes Yes
Kentucky Yes Yes Yes
Louisiana Yes Yes Yes
Maine Yes Yes Yes
Maryland Yes Yes Yes
Massachusetts Yes Yes Yes
Michigan Yes Yes Yes
Minnesota Yes Yes Yes
Mississippi Yes Yes No
Missouri Yes Yes No
Montana Yes Yes Yes
Nebraska Yes Yes Yes
Nevada Yes Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes Yes Yes
New Jersey Yes Yes Yes
New Mexico Yes Yes Yes
New York Yes Yes Yes
North Carolina Yes Yes No
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes
Ohio Yes Yes Yes
Oklahoma Yes Yes Yes
Oregon Yes Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Yes Yes Yes
Rhode Island Yes Yes Yes
South Carolina Yes Yes Yes
South Dakota Yes Yes Yes
Tennessee Yes Yes Yes
Texas Yes Yes No
Utah Yes Yes Yes
Vermont Yes Yes Yes
Virginia Yes Yes Yes
Washington Yes Yes Yes
Washington D.C. Yes Yes Yes
West Virginia Yes Yes Yes
Wisconsin Yes Yes Yes
Wyoming Yes Yes Yes

Keep in mind that some states will also impose criminal penalties for cyberbullying, especially when injury, stalking or death is involved.

What if the Parent is Not Aware of the Bullying?

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.

When Should I Consult an Attorney?

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.