Cyberbullying has become a major issue facing today's youth. With the evolution of technology, bullying has moved from the schoolyard to the internet. Several cyberbullying incidents have received national press, causing several different states to pass legislation to handle the onslaught of cyberbullies.
The advent of social networking sites, such as Myspace and Facebook, has created new ways for bullies to prey on their victims. The act of using communication devices and social networks to attack others has been coined "cyberbullying". Cyberbullying is a new concept that has legislators scrambling to keep up with the ever evolving ways that people find to harass and bully their peers.
Several states have enacted legislation that covers cyberbullying. Missouri garnered national attention when Megan Meier committed suicide because of cyber harassment from another teen's mother. The MySpace prank lead to the state of Missouri upgrading their cyber-harassment charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.
There have been several states that have passed legislation allowing schools to dish out punishment to students who engage in cyberbullying, even if the act didn't take place on school grounds or during school hours. Arkansas, Idaho, and New Jersey have all passed legislation allowing school officials to punish students who engage in harassment of other students through the use of a communication device or computer. While these laws do not allow criminal prosecution, they do give school authorities the tools needed to fight the cyber-harassment of their students.
Several states have passed legislation criminalizing cyberbullying. Vermont has passed legislation that allows fines to be imposed on people guilty of cyber-harassment. New York has created an entire system to give police the tools needed to fully investigate instances of cyberbullying and gather evidence for prosecution. Rhode Island is currently attempting to pass legislation forcing repeat cyberbullying offenders to appear in family court where they would be prosecuted as juvenile delinquents.
Cyberbullying has become one of the main ways for kids to harass other kids. Cyber-harassment has a huge negative impact on its victims. Several states have enacted legislation to protect victims of cyberbullying and punish those who orchestrate the act. While some states have been slow to evolve with the technology, there is no doubt that most will have to face the reality of cyberbullying and its negative impact on society.