online bullying laws featured

Online Bullying Laws

Legal Assistant Criminal Law, Personal Injury Law, Resources Leave a Comment

In today’s digital era, it’s no secret that the Internet plays a significant role in modern education. Learning about anything and everything under the sun has become possible courtesy of the internet. Ranging from getting degrees online to e-books, more student experiences and classroom functions are veering into cyberspace. And unfortunately, this includes online bullying, also known as cyberbullying.

Regardless of the good that the Internet brings to teachers, parents, and students, there are inevitably those that use it with malicious intent. While bullying has been there since the dawn of time, online bullying cropped up since the beginning of the internet. With that being said, this article explores everything you need to know about online bullying, ranging from the laws and facts to statistics. Read on!

The Definition of Cyberbullying

Initially used in 1998, cyberbullying referred to the virtual and anonymous posting of malicious messages about a person, for instance, a student. However, the advent of technology ushered in a newer definition.

women using tablet

Cyberbullying is currently defined as the use of digital gadgets such as tablets, smartphones, and computers to willfully and repeatedly harm someone. Given the threatening nature of the messages, cyberbullying, essentially mirrors the way bullying happens in real life.

Cyberbullying Laws

Online bullying has become so pervasive in recent years that there are laws in place to curb it. While there are no federal laws to address the plague of online bullying, there are state laws enforced in all fifty states. Furthermore, policies (as discussed below) have sprung up in some of these states that aid in guiding schools alongside their districts, respond to cyberbullying.

1. Criminal sanction: Except New Hampshire, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Mexico, Maine, and Nebraska, every state has laws that expressly criminalize any form of electronic harassment.

2. School policy: In all states except Montana, schools are required by the bullying law to enforce formal policies that help in identifying bullying and disciplinary actions to deal with it effectively.

3. School sanction: In 45 out of the 50 states, bullying laws empower schools to discipline students accordingly. The 5 exceptions are Nevada, Montana, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Michigan.

4. Off-campus behavior: In 16 states, federal law allows schools to take disciplinary action on students for off-campus behavior that’s disruptive to the learning environment.

Cyberbullying Facts

The astounding facts below prove that online bullying is as real as it gets.

  1. As of 2019, the rate of cyberbullying that’s prevalent in middle and high schools in the U.S is 36.5%
  2. Delaware has the lowest rate of online bullying among students (10.1%), whereas Louisiana has the highest (21.2%)
  3. 23% of students have engaged in cyberbullying
  4. Instagram is the social media platform where most young people feel the impact of cyberbullying
  5. 83% of youth believe that social media platforms need to be more proactive in curbing online bullying.
  6. Studies were conducted by the School Crime Supplement from the National Center for Education Statistics coupled with the Bureau of Justice Statistics. They revealed that 28% of students from the 6th to the 12th grade are victims of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Charges

  • California: Students have the inalienable right to a peaceful and safe environment in school. Therefore, using an electronic communication gadget to harass someone is regarded as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year behind bars and/or a $1000 fine.
  • Missouri: The use of social media to threaten or harass an individual is a Class-A misdemeanor and is punishable by the law. But, if the victim is below the legal age of 18, then it becomes a class D felony or if the defendant has faced harassment charges in the past.

Lawsuits Related to Cyberbullying

online study

For generations, bullying has been a recurring problem in schools. And, with more children gaining access to electronic gadgets, a new form of bullying has taken shape; cyberbullying.

Luckily, victims of this new age bullying can take legal action by filing a cyberbullying lawsuit against the perpetrator under personal injury law. Parents can get in touch with a qualified personal injury lawyer to determine if there are legal grounds for a lawsuit against a cyber-bully. By doing so, the victim’s parents may be eligible for a monetary settlement for the emotional trauma their child has endured.

Cyberbullying Suicidal Deaths Statistics

Victims of online bullying are more likely than others to develop suicidal and self-harm behaviors. To bolster this claim, a study unveiled that 6.4%, 14.8%, and 30.8% of boys in Delaware, Nevada, and Idaho respectively purposely inflicted self-harm.

Furthermore, reports show that students that are victims of cyberbullying are more likely to attempt suicide.

Suicide rates among 10 to 14-year olds have skyrocketed by more than 50%, with cyberbullying being one of the contributing factors.

Effective Ways to Dealing with Cyberbullying

With the alarming facts and statistics on online bullying, below are some of the precautions you can take.

silent hand sign
  • Silence is golden: Ignoring intentionally inflammatory remarks can be an uphill battle. But, it’s an effective way to avoid fueling the bully’s efforts whose goal is to ultimately elicit a response from you. When a cyber-bully feels ignored, they’ll jump ship to their next target. However, if the bully persists, then a better alternative would be to block them from contacting you.
  • Keep records: Document messages and any other abuses which stem from your cyber-bully. Being armed with proof, a police report, and an excellent lawyer, you can take legal action.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Modern technology has permeated our society and deeply transformed our lives. But cyberbullying is a darker side to this evolution. Fortunately, you can take steps to mitigate this modern-day problem.

If you have questions about a potential case, consult with a lawyer who specializes in this type of case. They’ll then shed light on the current state of the law, depending upon where you reside, and assist accordingly.

Leave a Reply