LL&D Law
Cyberbullying - Part 2

by Susan B. Loving
7/1/2011 4:27:00 PM

     As we discussed last week, cyberbullying has been described as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text.” In today’s world, anyone who uses electronic media may be a cyberbully victim, although studies suggest teens are the primary targets. The National Crime Prevention Council has suggested that more than half of American teens have been exposed to cyberbullying in some form.

     Cyberbullying may happen through web sites, text messaging, three-way calling, video, blogs and any other form of electronic communication. Cyberbullies may pretend they are other people online; spread lies and rumors about victims; trick people into revealing personal information; or post pictures or create websites about their victims. 

     According to one study, victims report the primary cyber bullying location is chat rooms (56 percent). Instant messaging was second (49%), and e-mail third (28%).

     Cyberbullying is simply another safety issue parents must address with their children. Just as children must learn and obey the rules of the road in order to drive, they should be taught certain rules they must obey to use the internet. Parents should regularly talk with their kids about cyberbullying, to teach them it is not funny, but can have serious consequences not only for the victim, but for the perpetrator. Children should be told they are prohibited not only from initiating cyberbullying, but from passing along inappropriate messages they receive from others. They should be encouraged to tell their friends to stop cyberbullying, as well.

     Children should be asked regularly what’s happening to them on the internet, and encouraged to talk to a parent or other trusted adult, if they are a victim of cyberbullying. School officials should be told, if the bullying may be school related.

     Although many cyberbullies think they are acting anonymously, their identity can often be determined. If you become a victim, don’t open any more messages, but don’t delete them, as they may be needed to take action. Obviously, never agree to meet with a cyberbully. If bullied through chat rooms or instant messaging, the bully’s communication can often be blocked. If a victim feels threatened, and certainly if threatened with harm, the bullying should be reported to a law enforcement agency. You may also want to contact an attorney to learn what legal options may exist.



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