Is Cyberbullying a Crime

Posted: November 2, 2013 in Articles
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Cyberbullying has a great impact to a person’s life. The damage can vary from simple to life-threatening.

Bullying is a serious matter. According to the National Crime Prevention Council’s report in 2011, more than 50% of the United States’ teenage population is suffering from one form of bullying or even more. With the Internet’s technology and social media websites like Facebook, bullying has even extended itself to cyberspace. This is what people call “cyberbullying.”

There have been several cases already of cyberbullying that, unfortunately, has resulted to deaths. One case is Rachael Neblett of Kentucky. Rachel had unfortunately committed suicide because of bullying in her MySpace account. Before her death in October 2006, she had received scores of threatening emails and messages online. Her parents brought the emails to the attention of the school principal, but the bullying only got worse.

In October 2006, the bully sent her another email threatening to kill her, which made Rachael apprehensive and averse to the idea of going to school. She decided to take her life in October 9. She was 17 years old.


Amy Fleming

Are There Statutes Criminalizing Cyberbullying?

In the United States, there are several State statutes that consider cyberbullying as a crime.

In the state of Connecticut, for example, an Act was passed in 2011 to specifically deal with Cyberbullying. The Act, which was named An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws and was legally known as S.B. 1138, defines Cyberbullying as bullying carried out through electronic or digital means including the Internet, cellular phones, and other similar telecommunications devices. The law also calls on school authorities to address bullying and to “include provisions addressing bullying outside of the school setting if such bullying (A) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, (B) infringes on the rights of the victim at school, or (C) substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”

CT Senate Democrats

Hawaii also treats cyberbullying as an offense. Under SB2094, the child is not held legally liable for cyberbullying or bullying in general, but any reported offense will require the parents to pay a fine of $100.

Just like Hawaii, Idaho had enacted what they called the “Jared’s Law” that seeks to address and penalize teenagers who bully other teenagers. Jared’s Law treats bullying, including cyberbullying, as a misdemeanor with corresponding punishment. However, unlike Hawaii, Idaho charges no fine for bullies; instead the bully risks suspension from school or even denied from attending classes as a result of bullying.

Maryland is another state that has passed a strict stance on cyberbullying. It has recently passed a legislature that is called “Grace’s Law” that considers cyberbullying as a misdemeanor. Like Hawaii, Maryland has severe punishment for every offense – any student that has been deemed as a bully by the Court risk imprisonment of up to 2 years, or to pay a fine of up to $500 depending on the circumstances.

Last but not the least is Tennessee, which passed State Bill 113 that criminalizes individuals for sending out threatening messages through the Internet in a bid to harass or bully. Offenders are charged with misdemeanor and face a 1 year prison term as well as fines of up to $2500.

Click site for more information about cyberbullying.

Mary Frank is currently taking Law at the University of Southern California. In her free time, she writes articles for discussing her opinion on current events that touch on American rights and American law.

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