You live in a world where bullying has always existed. Bullying has always been defined as the act of intimidating, harassing, hazing, or harming another individual. There was a time, however, where bullying was an act that only took place in person. It was an act that commonly happened at school or in the work place. With the prevalence of internet and social media, cyberbullying was born. If you or someone you care about has been the victim of cyberbullying, it is normal to want to know whether or not it is a crime and if there is anything you can do about it.
Are There Laws Against Cyberbullying?
Nearly 50 percent of the states in the U.S. have incorporated some form of cyberbullying into their anti-bullying laws. Most states either use the phrase cyberbullying or electronic harassment. There are some states, such as South Dakota, which tend to take cyberbullying more seriously than others. In the state of South Dakota, it is considered a crime for one person to harass another person on any medium of communication. This can include – but is not limited to – text messages, instant messaging, social media, and email. Furthermore, if the victim of the cyberbullying is under the age of 12, the crime can be considered a felony. South Dakota has even required all schools to implement a policy to prevent cyberbullying and to punish properly when it occurs.
The state of Tennessee also considers it to be a crime to harass someone on any communication platform. Slightly harsher than South Dakota, the state of Tennessee may escalate the crime to a felony if the victim of the cyberbullying is under the age of 18. Tennessee also requires school districts to have a policy and punishment plan in place to prevent cyberbullying from occurring.
Why Is Cyberbullying Considered a Crime
Some people may question how harmful cyberbullying is, considering the lack of physical contact. Cyberbullying is becoming a crime in more and more states is because it has severe psychological effects, and many victims of cyberbullying are committing suicide just to get away from the harassment. In 2010, for example, 18-year old Tyler Clementi killed himself after cyberbullies outed him as being homosexual all over social media. Tyler's roommate and another student involved were charged with crimes including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.
As you can see, cyberbullying is a crime that can have a devastating outcome if the victim does not get help and justice. If you or someone you care about has been the victim of cyberbullying, contact a criminal defense attorney like those at Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices for help organizing evidence and building your case.