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Cyberbullying refers to bullying on social media, typically among minors. Cyberbullying is a serious issue. Victims can become depressed, avoid school, and contemplate suicide. In many ways social media has created more powerful bullies. Bullying messages can be posted 24 hours a day, they can harm their victims from afar, and cyberbullying posts can reach a large audience quickly. On the other hand, there have never been more ways to combat the bullies. There is always a record of cyberbullying, so proving a case is straightforward. Schools and other authorities also actively discourage cyberbullying. New social media policies and laws often inflict costly punishments on cyberbullies. The key is to craft social media policies to prevent cyberbullying then promptly respond to any and all cyberbullying situations.
Cyberbullying laws can vary significantly from state to state. Some states have specific cyberbullying statutes while others do not differentiate it from other harassment. Even if there are no specific laws that apply to cyberbullying, there are often school policies or other regulations that can provide relief. The key is to know which rules apply to your situation and use them effectively. Always consult a licensed attorney knowledgeable in the latest social media law before taking any legal action.
1) Identify the cyberbullying. It is common for victims and their parents to be initially unaware that cyberbullying is going on. Teenagers grew up in a digital world and they might not view abusive behavior on social media as unusual. They may have participated in their fair share of it. Children are also reluctant to tell their parents about cyberbullying because they are embarrassed or fear getting in trouble. If parents notice unusual behavior in their children, they should investigate their child's social media.
2) Seek out the source. Cyberbullies leave a trail on social media. All you have to do is follow their trail with electronic discovery techniques. Sometimes you don't even need to do that because cyberbullies tend to brag about their misdeeds and victims often have a good idea who is harassing them. Keep in mind that a person does not have to originate the bullying behavior to be a cyberbully. Those who repeat the bullying are also guilty of it. When cyberbullies are called out and exposed, they tend to take a much more conciliatory tone.
3) Contemplate actions carefully. A common reaction to cyberbullying is to fight back through social media. This is usually a mistake. Emotional responses can result in counter-bullying. This sacrifices the high ground and makes you as guilty as the original cyberbully. Confronting the cyberbully is generally necessary, but doing so through an intermediary authority typically produces more constructive and lasting results. Any plan of action should begin with determining the desired result.
4) Proceed deliberately. Understand that feelings are hurt and just about everything will be taken personally by the parties involved. Focus on the desired result and not winning the feud. This is often best achieved through intermediaries such as schools, licensing organizations, or attorneys. A calm, neutral third party can often negotiate a compromise when all the parties involved don't want to back down. However, keep in mind that schools and licensing organizations don't work for you and may have their own agendas. Weigh your options carefully.
5) Legal action can be a last resort when all other options have failed, but is also effective as a preemptive strike when you want the cyberbully to know that you are serious. If cyberbullying rises to the level of defamation (libel or slander), it can result in an expensive civil lawsuit. On the other hand, the publicity of a lawsuit could also bring unwanted attention to an issue. Always consult a licensed attorney before embarking on any legal strategy.
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All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.