Parents’ Guide To Cyberbullying and the Law

What Is Cyberbullying

Bullying has always been an unfortunate part of the adolescent experience. Although discouraged by parents and teachers, most of us probably have memories of being intimidated by schoolyard bullies. However, in the old days, kids left their bullies behind when they left school for the day. But today, thanks to the internet and social media, many kids sadly take bullying home with them when they leave the school grounds.

Online bullying – or, as it has come to be known, cyberbullying – can often take a more vicious edge than the schoolyard taunts of yore. Once a group has identified a peer who they deem worthy of their vitriol, they will frequently be relentless, going so far as to create Facebook groups and entire pages devoted to harassing and mocking their chosen victim.

In some instances cyberbullying escalates to terrible levels, well beyond the bounds of anything that can be written off as “kids will be kids” behavior, and becomes a criminal offense. Over 90% of teens on social media have witnessed someone being mean to someone else on social media, and over 21% of teens check in on social media just to see if anyone has said anything mean about them. This infographic from rawhide.org shows a number of shocking statistics about cyberbullying.

In case you find your son or daughter faced with this situation, here are a few things you should know about cyberbullying and the law.

Cyberbullying Laws Vary State By State

Dealing with internet crime is still very new for legislators. While many states were slow to include electronic harassment in their definition of bullying, approximately 50% of states now include language in their bullying laws that make cyberbullying a crime. If your child is being cyberbullied, familiarize yourself with the laws of your state.

School Administrators Might Claim No Responsibility

Sadly, many school administrators will claim that they are not responsible if your child is being bullied. This is because they claim that the bullying is happened online and that the internet is off school grounds. If the administration refuses to step in and help, then you have no choice but to circumvent them and contact an attorney.

A Lawyer Can Help You Through The Process

Making a harassment case should always be done with the aid of a competent attorney. Your lawyer will be able to help you to document instances of abuse and advise you on how to file a police report. If the cyberbullying is very severe, your attorney will aid you in seeking protection orders on behalf of your child against the offender(s).

Standing Your Ground Is Crucial

If your child is being bullied, standing your ground and taking legal action is absolutely the best course of action. Many bullies are enabled by parents who fail to discipline them and a lack of a fear of consequences for their actions. Seeking an attorney and taking legal action demonstrates that the bully’s behavior will not be tolerated and that serious consequences are a possibility.

No parents want to see their child tormented. This is why it is essential that you seek legal representation if a group of kids are making your child’s life unhappy or causing him or her to feel unsafe. Follow the proper legal channels and take a stand against cyberbullying.

School Bullies and Your Options

No one wants to see their child get bullied at school, but what should a parent do if they feel like they can’t protect their child? Sending your kid off to school knowing there is a bully waiting for their arrival can be difficult, but knowing what to do to handle the situation can be even harder.

Here are some steps you can take, and some things you should avoid, to ensure that your child remains safe:

Do Not Approach the Bully’s Parents

It may seem a logical first step, but talking to the bully’s parents rarely ends well. Parents do not like to hear that their child is a bully anymore than they like to hear that their child is being bullied, so confronting someone with the notion that their child is a bad apple never ends well.

If the bully’s parents are abusive, informing them of their child’s bad behavior could be a trigger for more abuse for the child or the parents may even attack you.

Get All the Info

Before you do anything, be sure you know all the facts. Ask your child to inform you about what the bully is doing, if they are bullying anyone else, and where the bullying takes place. When you know all the information, a discussion with a professional will be easier.

Get the School Involved

The best help you can receive if your child is being bullied is from the school board. Talk with your child’s teachers and the school principal about what is happening to your child and what can be done to stop it from happening again.

Be sure to get a written document outlining what will be done to address the bullying situation. While you may trust that the school principal will do their best to get the bullying to stop, having it in written form allows you to hold them to it if they do not perform.

Take Legal Action

In some cases, legal action is necessary to get your child’s bullying to stop. If your child is being threatened, law enforcement should become involved as quickly as possible. Furthermore, if the school system is not performing to their agreed upon duties or is otherwise not addressing the bullying situation, you can file a Notice of Harassment. Contact a lawyer to discuss all of your legal options and find the best, fastest solution to your child’s bullying problem.

It is important to know how to recognize bullying and what you can do to stop it. Do not allow your child to live in fear, and do not feel like you have no recourse for action. There are legal means to stand up against bullying if the institutions you look to for support cannot handle it.