Cyberbullying laws have attempted to adapt to the relatively recent problems that have been caused by new technologies that enable cyberbullying. No longer confined to playgrounds, bullying now rears its ugly head through modern tools of communication like Twitter, Facebook and text messaging. Legislatures have responded by passing laws at the local and state level, however there is no federal law that directly addresses the issue.
How effectively are these cyberbullying laws remains to be seen. Many legal experts believe that cyberbullying laws that criminalize harassing messages will do little to deter cyberbullying while overloading the criminal justice system with minors.
Some believe that a combination of effective laws, effective parental involvement, and a general education campaign will be most effective in reducing the scourge of cyberbullying.
Indeed, while most some studies suggest that upwards of 50% of young Americans today have been the victim of cyberbullying at some point in our lives, cyberbullying advocates complain that there is a general ignorance towards the topic. Most kids, they say, cannot define cyberbullying laws.
This is partially because cyberbullying is often times confused with cyber harassment and cyber stalking. Cyberbullying involves a minor perpetrator and a minor victim, whereas cyber harassment and cyber stalking involves an adult perpetrator and a minor victim.
A lot of people also dismiss cyberbullying as minor and think it is just a kid saying insulting things towards one another. Even beyond the fact that bullying in the form of insulting messages have led to kids committing suicide, cyberbullying is far more broad in its scope.
For example, an 18-year-old students named Tyler Clemente committed suicide in 2010 when his roommates recorded Tyler performing homosexual acts and posted the footage on Twitter, humiliating Tyler to the point where he jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
In addition to better education, a key tool in combating cyberbullying is parental and teacher involvement. First and foremost, they need to educate themselves about cyberbullying and teach their children and students about what cyberbullying is, why it is wrong, and how to handle it when they or someone else is a victim of cyberbullying.
Teachers and parents also need to be proactive about being on the lookout for incidents of cyber bullying and supporting its victims.
There are multiple organizations that deal with the problems of cyberbullying laws. Some websites that are very informative and can give you resources on how to support your children or students are listed below.