The issue of bullying has become a hot topic across the United States in recent years. Tragic events such as victim suicides and violent assaults have turned the spotlight on the debate of exactly when and how bullying becomes a criminal act. At the forefront of this debate is the increasing trend of cyber bullying where often the bullies anonymously attack their victims online through fake profiles and social media accounts.
What is Cyber Bullying?
The Attorney General of the State of Massachusetts classifies Cyber Bullying as “electronically communicated threats and willful and malicious directing electronic communications at a specific person that seriously alarm that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.”
Children and Adults may be Charged with Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying does not end at the toll of the school bell or end of the work day. It continues every time the victim uses their smartphone, handheld device, or computer. The victim cannot escape the bully even in the privacy of their own home. The severe emotional toll that often accompanies these acts is why cyber bullying is considered an extreme form of harassment. The Massachusetts legislature has made laws regarding cyber bullying sweepingly severe, this means children to adults can be charged, convicted, and penalized for Cyber bullying crimes.
Massachusetts Penalties for Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying is classified under the same penal laws as hate crimes, criminal harassment, and stalking. This means penalties for cyber bullying can be severe depending on the circumstances. The penalties can range from straight probation to incarceration depending on the severity of the conduct and damages suffered by the victims.
If you have questions about Massachusetts laws regarding bullying at school or the workplace, contact our firm for more information or a case evaluation if you or your child have been charged with Cyber Bullying.
Resources for Additional Information about Cyber Bullying
The Massachusetts Trial Court website has links to the various criminal statutes and information about steps to take if you or your child is being bullied via social media. Please visit their web site at for more information. If your child is being cyber bullied, you should reach out to his or her school and seek professional assistance.