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.