Is Cyberbullying a crime?
Is Cyberbullying a crime? While bullying among people, usually the younger generations, is nothing new, cyberbullying is new and gaining momentum. Bullying occurs in person, and the victim knows who the bully is. Cyberbullying is done through anonymous attacks on the victim. Cyberbullying can take place on any electronic device such as a computer or cell phone. It can also take place on bulletin boards where the bully posts believable false messages about the victim.
Kids are vulnerable to believing anything they read. Cyberbullying is mean and threatening with cruelly harassing taunts towards a person or persons. Cyberbullying can occur in posts, social networking sites, fake profiles, emails and chat rooms. Cyberbullies can get misleading information into the hands of thousands of people in a matter of minutes.
There is little chance that the bully will be caught when they cyberbully their victim. The bully can enlist a group of people to join them in their harassing efforts toward the victim because they feel relatively safe. The big thing that the victim must remember is to give no response in any way to anything the bully is doing or saying. If the bully gets no reactions from the victim, the bully will tire of their vicious game and eventually quit. It will not be easy for the victim to ignore these insults and face friends, but in the end, the victim will win out. No one is so smart that he/she does not leave some evidence of his or her crime. The cyberbully will eventually be found. The victim needs to document times places and occurrences of the cyberbullying for authorities.
So, Is Cyberbullying a Crime?
The victim should contact the police when threats of violence are received. Keep all evidence and eventually, the evidence will lead to the bully. Fifteen states across the United States including Massachusetts have set laws in place making cyberbullying a crime. At this current time 2013, there is a bill being considered in law making cyberbullying a federal crime. This crime includes attacks made electronically. Communications made electronically that are done for the sole purpose of coercing, harassing and intimidating should be and are expected to be a federal offence. Cyberbullies can harass on the internet because they feel in complete control and anonymous.
The following are excerpts of cases of cyberbullying stories of victims harassed and what happened. Some of these cyberbullying stories may help others who are being cyberbullied. The most difficult age to cope with cyberbullying is the early teenage years. Kids want to present themselves as acceptable among their peers. When some cyberbully comes along and spreads untruths about a teenager, their friends are the first ones to jump upon the untruths and believe everything they read. This is when their friends can shun the teenager.
is Cyberbullying a crime? Cyberbullying Stories:
In 2006, a 13-year-old girl fell victim to cyberbullying. The result, according to her parents, was suicide by the 13-year-old. These parents are now forming a group and legislation to push for safety measures against any cyberbullies. In this case, a friend’s mother lied on the internet about the girl’s profile. The mother of this girl’s friend wanted to gain trust in the girl for the sole purpose of finding out what the girl was saying about her daughter. This mother became violent in her communications and the 13-year-old eventually committed suicide. No one believes that this was the intention of this mother to see this girl die, however, the mother was responsible for pushing this girl to at the state of mind where the girl felt that suicide was her only way out.
This 13 year old apparently had low self-esteem and was taking prescribed medication at the time she died. The mother posed as a cute boy and quickly befriended the girl. They formed a bond in one month. The girl received an email from the boy, and he told her his name. He told her he lived close by, was homeschooled and was 16 years old. The boy promised her an online friendship. Connecting via the telephone for the girl and her new friend was out of the question as he said his parents did not have a phone, so the two continued to email each other.
The girl’s mother saw some red flags and contacted the police to see if they could trace who this supposedly 16-year-old boy was, and they said they could not do that. It was not too long before the boy started to write insults and questioned the girl’s integrity. He told her that their friendship was in question because he had heard she did not treat her friends well. Soon messages began to be electronically posted about the girl’s appearance and character on social networking sites.
While the girl could not understand, why this was happening and her friend was posting such hurtful things for all to see. Comments continued to be cruel and upsetting to a 13-year-old who already had low self-esteem and a history of depression. This devastated the girl so much that she hung herself. Her mother found her daughter still alive, but the girl died the next day.
A month after the girl’s death the parents learned that the 16-year-old boy never existed. These parents learned from another mother that a mom in their neighbourhood created the 16-year-old and was the one ultimately responsible for the girl’s death.
There is a case after case of kids who committed suicide after being attacked via cyberbullying. They just could not live with the comments and prejudice they were receiving. Many cyberbully victims have depression making the situation worse or the situation itself brings on depression so serious that it leads to suicide.
Case after case of cyberbullying victims will die by committing suicide. Cyberbullying has consequences for which there is no return. Death is one consequence.
Is CyberBullying a crime? Some Known Cyberbullying Cases
Tyler Clementi was a victim of cyberbullying. Tyler was a college freshman and jumped from George Washington Bridge.
Jessica Logan sent a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend. This nude photo ended up being sent around her school. Jessica ended up committing suicide due to the humiliation and embarrassment that she could not cope with.
Sarah Lynn Butler was teased at school so much, and posts were made of her on MySpace that she committed suicide. Sarah was a popular seventh grader and voted Queen at her school’s fall festival.
*A 15-year-old immigrant, Phoebe Prince living in Massachusetts committed suicide by hanging herself because she was cyberbullied. She could not handle the harassment.
Iowa student, Kenneth Weishuhn Jr., committed suicide after admitting online and in person that he was gay.
Hope Witsell, a 13-year-old in Florida sent to a boy she liked a nude photo of herself. The photo ended up in other students’ hands. This started a series of name-calling and serious cyberbullying. Hope ended up committing suicide, as she could not handle the pressure.
Rachael Neblett committed suicide after falling victim to threats through cyberbullying. She was a 17-year-old student in Kentucky.
More cases to highlight answers to “Is Cyberbullying a Crime ?”
A 15-year-old student, Grace McComas from Baltimore, committed suicide after she had been a victim of cyberbullying for months.
16-year-old Canadian Amanda Todd committed suicide after months of cyberbullying and bullying. She made some changes in her life and changed schools, but the harassment did not stop.
Bullies and cyberbullies have generally been victims themselves and turn into bullies for payback. Whatever the reason cyberbullies feel they need to harass others is as wide and varied as the bullies in the public. There is nothing good that comes from bullying. It would be good if lawmakers could make cyberbullying a federal crime. This should at least make bullies think twice about their actions, making them accountable for their victims committing suicide.
So what about the answer to this question: is Cyberbullying a crime? In the case of Phoebe Prince, nine students were involved, and the District Attorney, for a connection to Prince’s suicide, indicted six of the nine. Prince 15 years of age apparently had been dating an older football player. Some of the older girls resented her relationship with the football. One pelted her with a pop can, and all of the students involved created three months of torment for Prince. Cyberbullying messages on Facebook, mobile messages, verbal assaults and threats of physical harm made it impossible for Prince to continue. Most of the students involved were charged with criminal harassment and violation of civil rights leading to Prince’s suicide. Some of the students were expelled from the school.
Teenagers and adults are going through life being cyberbullied and may or may not be aware of this. Most who are aware of what is happening to them feel depressed and miserable. There is some feeling of low self-esteem and worthlessness. The cyberbullies who commit these crimes are cowardly and immature. They are able to hide behind the internet as a faceless, nameless evil entity. As this bill passes into law as a federal offence, the federal government will easily track these bullies and charge them, possibly saving hundreds of youngsters who fall victim to their harmful harassment of innocent people. This is a great first step to the prevention of this crime.
Cyberbullies do not have to be some great criminal loose on the streets. Many times a cyberbully is a classmate, friend or neighbour. Nonetheless, it will be too bad if they were to ruin their life over some insane harassment of an innocent person. The unexplained horror that cyberbullies bring to the lives of innocent people should be and will become law from which there will be no escape. Prevention of this crime is the first step toward protecting our rights.
Teenagers who are able to get through the tough times of being bullied or cyberbullied and do not commit suicide, grow up to be responsible adults. They start working towards a solution and pushing into law making cyberbullying a criminal offence in any state, in the United States.
There is a story after story of kids who have been or who are being cyberbullied. In many of these cases, it seems to be the school administrators who neglect to do anything about what is happening in their halls and on school property. Many times the school administration seems to close their eyes to bullies. If school administrators decide to do anything about a school bully it takes a long time for them to step up and accept responsibility for discipline. Does that help answer “Is cyberbullying a crime ?”?
When youngsters tell their parents what is happening, parents do not seem to take their children to heart. Most times, it seems as though they play down what is happening and do not put safety first for their children. The child must continue to try to get through their day somehow and in some way. Not only are cyberbullied to blame for the high suicide rate for cyber bully victims, but the parents and school administrators must also shoulder some responsibility, for not practising safety and prevention of these crimes.
Victims of cyber bullies and bullies should know that these people are highly intimidating. They thrive on having an audience. Bullies want to relate to everyone who will listen to how tough they think they are. Cyberbullies are a progression of escalating problems in progress for their victims.
Laws about Cyberbullying
In the US, a summary prepared by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. on State Cyberbullying Laws report that while 50 states have laws against bullying and at least one or more existing laws about cyberbullying, only 18 states have definitive laws about cyberbullying included. As of December 2013, five more states are proposing to add laws about cyberbullying to their existing legislation.
In the state of California for example, AB 746 says that bullying can be dealt with in schools by punishing the person who is committing the bullying by suspending or expelling the student from school. This would also include bullying that is done electronically to include posts on a social network or Internet website, in other words, this is what defines laws about cyberbullying.
Alternately, while cyberbullying as a term is not stated, Alabama’s policies include “electronic forms of bullying” in its laws about cyberbullying. Such is the case with 29 other states without laws about cyberbullying.
Federal laws do not have a definitive section for bullying and cyberbullying as they often overlap with existing discriminatory harassment policies. However, laws about cyberbullying, bullying in electronic form, and corresponding criminal sanctions are currently being proposed in the federal arena. In the UK, there are several laws about cyberbullying that can help protect an individual from being victimized by cyberbullying.
- According to the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998, all state schools are mandated to have anti-bullying policies. Under the Education Regulations of 2003, independent schools are to have similar regulations as well.
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 have provisions for threatening behaviour or harassment that can encompass cyberbullying. However, specific laws against it have yet to be drafted.
- The Communications Act 2003 makes sending offensive, indecent or menacing messages by public electronic communications networks a criminal offence.
While social networking is a wonderful way for family and friends to connect to each other, these sites do a wonderful service for the majority of people. There is that minority of people or cyberbullies who can overwhelmingly ruin the lives of some of those who only want to stay connected and enjoy family and friends. If you are being bullied or cyberbullied stand your ground, document all actions and report this crime to the police, for safety sake and prevention of further action by the bully. Do not let a bully or cyberbully ruin your life and push for realizing whether is Cyberbullying a crime! If you know cyberbullying criminal offence list or you came across cyberbullying criminal offence list, please pass it on to us and let’s educate others on what is a cyberbullying criminal offence.
You should totally work with your community and press for harsher laws against cyberbullying. Creating tougher laws against cyberbullying will make each kid think twice about cyberbullying someone in any way.