Any repeated and malicious communication through electronic means –whether through cell phones, computers, mobile devices, or any other devices – is considered cyberbullying and is against the law in Florida. This crime can involve sending unwanted and harmful messages or other forms of communication intended to harm.
It is also a serious concern for parents – and with good reason. About one in four children have been victims of cyberbullying, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC). In many cases, children who have been targeted struggle with schoolwork, find their relationships affected, and suffer serious stress. Some withdraw or engage in self-harm. Some even commit suicide.
What Legal Options do Victims Have?
Parents of children who have been cyberbullied have a few options. Under Florida law, all schools must have anti-bullying policies. Unfortunately, this can also mean schools want to deal with bullying themselves.
When schools become involved in a cyberbullying or bullying case, it’s important to keep lines of communication clear and to keep a running record of how often the school contacts you, how often you contact the school, and information shared.
Regrettably, not all schools are aggressive in pursuing bullying cases. Some may be hesitant to expel students or may fail to keep a child safe, even when aware of the problem. If your child’s school is not taking adequate steps to protect your child from bullying, make sure that you record all relevant information and get legal support or contact the police for further assistance.
Since cyberbullying is a crime, police may become involved and it may be possible for you to file criminal charges against bullies. In cases where cyber bullying involves sexual threats or sexual harassment against a minor, especially, police may take bullying very seriously.
Another option that may be available to you is a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and potentially their parents. If the perpetrator is a minor, the child’s parents may be held partly liable if they allowed their son or daughter to use a family computer or failed to monitor their son or daughter and this allowed the cyberbullying.
In some cases, perpetrators may also violate copyright laws or perform other acts that violate tort laws in the commission of their crimes, and it may be possible to file a legal claim against them in this situation. In some situations, perpetrators may be liable for libel in cyberbullying cases. It is useful to speak to an attorney to consider the claims relevant in your case.
No two cyberbullying cases are the same. If your child has been targeted, you need to act quickly – before the situation escalates and your child suffers harm and trauma. Gather evidence of bullying and contact police, the school, and the authorities. Contact an attorney to find out what other legal options may be available to you.
If you’re looking for a personal injury attorney in Hollywood or anywhere in South Florida, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation. Our compassionate attorneys and family-based law firm are proud to stand by families in southern Florida.