Are Cyber-Bullying Laws Too Strict?
Cyber-bullying is a form of bullying that takes place using the Internet, or other electronic devices, such as a cell phone. Victims are harassed, teased, embarrassed and sometimes even threatened with images and words that are either sent to the victim themselves, or shared publicly through social media. Cyber-bullying and bullying are essentially the same idea with one major difference. Someone being bullied at school or at work can walk away from it at the end of the day. However, someone that is being cyber-bullied will have no way to escape it, as it can happen at any time of the day or night.
After the death of a 15-year-old girl in 2006, several states created cyber-bullying laws. Four years later in New York, Albany County created a law and defined it a crime to communicate “private, personal, false, or sexual information,” that is intended to “harass, annoy, threaten, abuse, taunt, intimidate, torment, humiliate, or otherwise inflict significant emotional harm on another person.”
The first person to be charged with this law was a 15-year-old boy that created a Facebook page, where he posted photos of other teenagers with graphic and sexual remarks attached to them. The teen was arrested in 2011, after police were able to track his IP address. The boy pleaded guilty to one count of cyber-bullying on the condition that he was able to challenge the constitutionality of the law in a higher court. Many argue that these laws go against our freedom of speech and that these matters should be dealt with by schools.
As of now, the higher court has yet to make a final decision on the constitutionality of this law.
Bullying and cyber-bullying can be emotionally and psychologically damaging on anyone but can be especially so on a young child. Nearly 43 percent of teens have been bullied online and of those, one in four have had it happen to them more than once. Although Florida has not criminalized cyber-bullying there are still other ways to help stop it. It is important to be aware of what your kids are doing online and to have set rules.
If your child is being bullied online or at school, don’t hesitate to call us at the LaBovick Law Group. Our firm has taken on several bully cases, and we believe no child deserves the pain and suffering that a bully can cause.