Cyberbullying Laws

Bullying is not a new phenomenon. Truth is, most people are victims of bullying at some point in their lives, be it at school, the office or social gatherings. And thanks to the Internet, online bullying has also become a serious problem. Online harassment is commonly referred to as cyberbullying. Victims of cyberbullying may not suffer from physical harm, but the mental fatigue caused by Internet harassment is often more severe than the effects of traditional bullying.

What Are the Cyberbullying Types?

Cyberbullying can be carried out via instant messengers, chat rooms, discussion forums and emails. Since the cyberbullying problem has grown exponentially, experts have delineated five different types of online harassment.

  • Cyberstalking: Victims of cyberstalking receive harsh and annoying messages repeatedly, either on their mobile phones, through the Internet or by email. The messages can be intimidating and may instil fear in the victims’ minds. Victims of cyberstalking often start believing that the intimidator can move offline and harm them physically.
  • Exclusion: Exclusion is a bullying technique that can be practiced both online and off. Exclusion refers to a bullying procedure that involves excluding or singling out an individual from a group. During exclusion cyberbullying, victims are first excluded from online groups and then taunted overwhelmingly by the other group members through the Internet.
  • Flaming: The term flaming refers to a cyberbully that supplements their hate speech with cruel and harsh photos. During flaming, communication occurs via instant messengers, emails, chat rooms or forums.
  • Outing: Outing is a cyberbullying technique in which the abuser shares private information without permission with the intent to hurt.
  • Masquerading: This is a sophisticated cyberbullying type. During masquerading, individuals create fake accounts on social networking websites to harass the victims. Masquerading is also the term used for malevolent activities, like stealing the victim’s login information and sharing it publicly.

Cyberbullying State Laws

Over 35 US states have laws that cover bullying in general. However, only 15 states have specific laws that govern cyberbullying. Seven more states are now waiting for cyberbullying laws to be passed by their legislatures. California and Missouri have the toughest cyberbully laws. In other words, convicted cyber bullies in CA and MO receive harsh punishments

In 2009, a federal bill that addresses cyberbullying was presented to the House of Representatives. The bill was titled the ‘Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act’. The bill was named after Megan Meir, the victim of the most famous cyberbullying case in the United States. The suicide of Megan Meir after being cyber bullied through a social networking website made the parents, advocates and law enforcement realizes the importance of having laws governing cyberbullying.

Are you or your child being cyberbullied or stalked online? Do you want to make it stop? You do have options, even in states that don’t have a formal cyberbullying law on the books. Contact the Kelly Law Firm today to discuss how to put an end to the online harassment.

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