Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Legal Elements of Cyberbullying Activities - Most Laws that Cover Cyberbullying Activities are Not Cyberbullying Laws At All.

Too often people look for the one law that fits the one crime they are dealing with. Instead, they should think about the activities that were part of that crime. When looking to see if we need a new law to address cyberbullying, try looking at the pieces of the cyberbullying itself. In law, we call these the "elements of the crime." The Legal Elements When you look at cyberbullying from the legal perspective, break it down to its elements: • Is it threatening? • Is it defamatory? • Is it targeting teachers or school administrators? (Remember this isn’t “cyberbullying” under our definition, but it is cyberharassment, given the adult’s involvement.) • Was it sent from school computers, during the school day, from a school-sanctioned event, or promoted in school? • Was it from a home computer, off-school premises, and not involving a school sanctioned event? • Has the person identified themselves? • Was it sent while posing as someone else? • Was it sent anonymously? • Was it sent only to the target or was it publicized? • What device was used? • Who owns or legally controls that device? (Such as someone’s cellphone being grabbed when they weren’t looking.) • Is it repeated? If so, how often? • Did they break into the target’s online account? • Did they have legal access to the target’s password (because it was given to them or stored on their computer)? These are already covered by laws that aren't new and aren't directed at cyberbullying. Being creative and thinking about each of the steps taken in the cyberbullying may make it easier to get help now.