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Cyberbullying

By , LAFAYETTE, CO

Cyberbullying. Defined as, “The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” (Google) Cyberbullying is something that takes place everyday, whether we choose to ignore it, or just watch it happen. Cyber Bullying occurs everywhere you go. It’s in every school. It is happening most among high school students. Some people don’t really know what the extent of cyberbullying can do. Some don’t even realize when they are doing it. Cyberbullying is different from your typical playground bully who takes your lunch money. Cyberbullying is an online type of bullying. It can be anonymous, it can be over social media, the news, anywhere. Social media sites have the most cyberbullying go on. Most people use fake identities and use anonymous usernames so that people can’t track them. Kids also joke around saying insulting things with their friends over social media, but there are some people who aren’t joking and it’s hard to tell the difference. There are unclear rules on what is really considered cyberbullying. A friend could be calling another friend an idiot, for example, and a viewer wouldn’t know if it was a serious comment or not. We need clear laws across the county for things like this. Cyberbullying is something that takes place in our everyday lives, it is something that should be put to an end by creating a federal law that makes it illegal to cyberbully someone in all 50 states of America.

 

Some states in the U.S. don’t have a single law against cyberbullying. These states are Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. There is no federal law against cyberbullying, so it is up to the states to make the laws. Colorado, our state, does have a law against bullying. According to Hopkins Way, young adults, between the ages of 18-29, are the most likely age group to experience online bullying on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Colorado law is not very specific on what can be considered cyberbullying. It states that threats and harassment can be considered online bullying. Then there’s kids who joke around calling eachother names, but what’s to say that other people aren’t joking when they call you names? “Now harassing another person over a website like Facebook or Instagram is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $750 and six months in county jail. The bill went into effect July 1, 2015.” (Colorado’s Harassment Law Expanded for Social Media). Colorado’s Cyberbullying law became more strict when the bill went into effect in July of 2015. In other states, the laws against cyberbullying could be more or less strict. In the state of Missouri, an incident occurred with a young girl taking her life because of the effects of cyberbullying. As a result, the people of Missouri started protesting for stronger cyber bullying laws. The state of Missouri then updated their cyberbullying, harassment and online bullying. These two states are some instances of the different variations of state laws against cyberbullying.


Punishment and consequences can be an outcome bullying, no one should get away with making others feel insecure, alone, and excluded. Depending on the state, the laws against cyberbullying could range anywhere from civil penalties, including suspension from school or even expulsion, to jail time for criminal misdemeanors or even felonies. In the state of Colorado, “ Harassment of someone online, by text, email, social network posts, or otherwise is a misdemeanor crime in Colorado. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-9-111.) A person convicted of harassment may be sentenced to not more than one year in county jail, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-505.)” (Cyberbullying Laws in Colorado).  The colorado law is strict and can be different from laws in other states. For example, in the state of Virginia, “For punishment purposes, judges have the discretion to treat class 6 felonies as either a misdemeanor (a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both ) or a felony (at least one and up to five years in prison), depending on the severity of the crime. (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-60.)” (Cyberbullying Laws in Virginia|Criminal Law). Laws consisting of cyberbullying vary in each state. Some can be more strict and some can be less strict than others. This is why the United States needs a federal law against cyberbullying so that in all 50 states, so that the law remains the same for criminal punishment. Cyberbullying is something that needs to be addressed in all states, with the laws strict and equal.


Personally, I have experienced cyberbullying. It is something that has affected my life and is something I feel passionate about to write a research essay on. My sophomore year of highschool, summer time, going into junior year was the most intense time I had experienced cyberbullying. I have been bullied most of my life, but this time it was different. My friend had gotten upset with me over a boy, typical highschool drama, but then started to take it too far. First, this friend posted my number, address, and other personal information on craigs list for a fake ad. It was for a free sugar glider, which is a finger monkey. I started getting around 40 calls and 20 text messages a day from people who wanted to get the non-existent sugar glider. These calls continued for about 2 months continuously throughout the bullying, and my friend never took the ad down no matter how many times I asked her. Then, her other friends started joining in. They had a group chat named after me and sent pictures of me in class to the group. They would also call me names in the halls and over social media. They would make fun of me in the group, and there were around 45-50 people in that group. The friend who put the ad up told me she wanted to fight me and said she would “drop me in less than 3 seconds.” I’ll always remember her saying that. Eventually it started to die down, so me, my friend Caitlin, and my other friend Josie went to a party, where those people were there who had been bullying me. People were drinking, and doing drugs. Me and my friends remained sober through the night because we knew that we had to stay cautious of the people we were surrounded by. I had been talking to someone when Josie came running up to me telling me she just got punched in the face. I was surprised and confused. Then, the girl who had punched her came up to us and started calling us awful names and harrassing us. Others then joined in, in an effort to be on her side, not ours. We left the party after being harassed, yelled at, and spit on (literally), for almost 30 minutes. Josie, Caitlin and I got the police involved after the group message had been blown up by threats to vandalize, kidnap, and hurt us. It got so intense to the point where I almost lost my will to live. So, I transferred schools. It has been wonderful ever since. I share this very personal story a lot because I want to raise awareness to others that words and actions over social media and face to face really do hurt, and can cost someone their life. This is just one example of why these laws need to be passed.


Cyberbullying is something that is important to recognize. Cyberbullying is something that takes place in our everyday lives, it is something that should be put to an end by creating a federal law that makes it illegal to cyberbully someone in all 50 states of America. Some states don’t have laws against cyberbullying and that needs to change. The consequences in some states vary but need to be equal laws in all 50 states. In some cases, the defense against bullying is the first amendment to the constitution, Freedom of Speech. Personally, I think that it is a ridiculous argument, but some people do use it in their defense. Cyberbullying is something that people question because social media is hard to understand if people are joking without personal interaction. These instances make it difficult for laws to be passed with specifics because one could say that they were kidding and it wasn’t intentional. A federal law against cyberbullying would help make sure that the consequences of someone’s actions online would be equal and existent in all 50 states.


Cyberbullying is something that people need to call attention to. Not many speak out and take action to stop it. Some are the victims themselves and are too scared to speak up because their afraid of being called a snitch or other choice words. This paper falls into the category of Human Behavior. It basically explains itself. Human behavior of bullying other people. Some people who bully others might have problems of their own going on and they take it out on others. Some may simply feel insecure and want others to feel how they are so they get angry. Some may be angry at the word. Some may feel jealous of others. These things are the most common causes of a person feeling the need to bully someone else, whether it be over social media or even in person. Taking action against cyberbullying is important in today’s world because the use of technology and the development of technology is growing rapidly. People need to think differently about what they choose to say online. Someone may not know if they’re joking or being serious about the comment made. Speak up against it. Take the initiative to speak up for someone else. Raise awareness. These are simple things you can do to help someone who may not know how to help themselves. There needs to be a federal law to make cyberbullying illegal in all 50 states across the country, it may help younger, older, and all ages have a happier life, it even may save their life.






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