What kind of cyberbullying laws protect me?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online, be it on Facebook, a video game, instant-messaging or any number of other methods of communication that exist online. Today, almost every state has legislation that protects against bullying, but not all states have specific cyberbullying laws.
One problem with cyberbullying is that it may take place in the classroom, but online. Students might be harassing each other through text messaging and Facebook during class time with their smartphones, and the teacher would have no idea. Schools are hesitant to accept responsibility for something that can easily occur off school property as well. When online bullying spills over to real-world confrontations in the classroom, it’s already too late.
However, if cyberbullying takes place using school computers, the administration quickly takes action.
Is this a big deal?
According to a recent study by AVG, an Internet security company, 82 percent of children have some kind of online presence or profile before they turn two, mostly due to parents uploading photos. With this level of participation online, it is important to be aware what cyberbullying laws exist.
Eight percent of students have been bullied online, according to a Pew Internet report.
Though all states have laws covering cyberstalking, cyberharrasment and cyberbullying, not every state covers each category.
Bullying on Facebook can technically be breaking the law, and students have been arrested before. Schools turn to the police as a last resort, preferring to deal with incidents personally first.
It is also important to note that even if your state does not have explicit cyberbullying legislation, there are still laws that protect you online. Posting false messages on social networks in order to harass someone qualifies as cyberbullying, but also falls under older cyberharassment laws.
Pretending to be someone else on a social network in order to embarrass them — a common tactic of school bullies — is also cyberbullying, as well as potential identify theft. In fact, in some states, if fake social network posts cause two or more people to contact the victimized student, an additional charge is added, which could be punishable by prison time.
Cyberbullying can be very dangerous, and the legal consequences match the seriousness of the damage.