School Bullying Can Be a Crime [Video]
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 37% of teens have reported being bullied while at school. Forty-four percent of middle schools reported bullying is a problem. And 52% of students reported being cyber bullied.
Cyber-bullying is electronic harassment With the speed of Internet communications many people quickly become witnesses to the bullying and humiliation.
Tragedies of young teenager committing suicide after being victims of cyber bullying has been a wake- up call for change. Who can forget the horror of the suicide of Megan Meier in 2006. She hanged herself with a belt after being bullied by a neighbor, pretending to be a teen-age boy, online.
Fifteen states have recently passed or have pending legislation specifically against cyber-bullying. Opponents of such laws assert First Amendment rights.
But in 2000, a Pennsylvania court ruled schools have the authority to stop cyber bullying, even initiated off-campus, when the incident results in a substantial disruption of the educational environment.
Cyber bullying can violate civil laws. A cyber bully can be liable for defamation, slander and libel. For libel, the statement must harm the target’s reputation and it must be published — seen by someone other than the bully and the target. The cyber bully is responsible for any reasonably foreseeable consequences.
And, a school that does not provide a safe environment can be sued by the victim.
Cyber bullying can also be a crime. It can be prosecuted as harassment, punishable by 10 years in prison. It can also be defamatory libel, punishable by five years in prison.
If you feel your child is being bullied or is cyber bullying, talk to him or her. Discuss ways to stop the bullying. Remind your child of how other people can be hurt by their actions and how the law can severely punish offenders.
Watch Larry’s full report to review your and your children’s legal protections to help end cyber bullying in our school.