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Cyberbullying charges can have serious legal consequences

Cyberbullying, as most people know, involves using the internet or other technology to intimidate, harass or threaten someone. It's commonly done via text, email and social media sites. While cyberbullying make lack the physical component of the bullying that many of us experienced as children, it can be very public, and can cause serious trauma to its mostly young victims.

Technology has exploded so quickly in the past decades that laws haven't always been able to keep up with the ways in which it can be abused. The same is true for cyberbullying.

However, states are putting laws in place to combat it. Almost half of all states have some type of cyberbullying laws on the books. Even where there aren't specific statutes addressing electronic harassment, prosecutors have sometimes used other criminal harassment laws to bring people to justice in instances where the bullying led to tragic outcomes.

Legal consequences can range from fines to jail time. That's in addition to school-mandated penalties such as suspension or expulsion. Of course, those accused of cyberbullying can also be held civilly liable for the damages caused by their actions.

Some parents may consider their children's or teens' cyberbullying activities as relatively normal, harmless behavior. However, as we've seen in too many cases in recent years, a young person who has been mocked, teased, insulted embarrassed or shamed repeatedly in a forum where multiple people have "witnessed" it can find it unbearable to the point where they take their own lives.

Therefore, if your child is facing cyberbullying charges, it's essential to take those charges seriously and seek experienced legal guidance. The outcome of any legal action against your child could impact his or her schooling and future.

Source: Findlaw, "Cyberbullying," accessed Nov. 16, 2016

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