Cyberbullying / Social Media Bullying

Likely all parents appreciate the influence that social media now plays in the lives of their children.  Websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are used by tens of millions of users on a daily basis.  Today, as more than half of all high school students own smartphones (and more than 40% of middle school students own smart phones), contact with friends on social is nearly constant.

Cyberbullying Attorneys – We Understand the Dark Side of Social Media

As cyberbullying attorneys, we are available to represent those who have been victimized through the Internet and social media.  We understand the devastating impact that cyberbullying can have on a person’s life.

Unfortunately, despite its benefits, social mediacontains a dark side, particularly when used as a medium to bully peers. Social media bullying can often result in more harm when compared to face-to-face, “real world” bullying.

Traditionally, those bullied publicly in school settings usually involved relatively few or no witnesses, and the actually duration of the bullying usually ended when the victim left the setting in which the bullying occurred.  With cyberbullying (also referred to as “social media bullying”), this is not the case.

Cyberbullying subjects victims to a forum in which they are ridiculed in front of their friends, classmates, family, and even the world.  Unlike “in-person” bullying, social media bullying does not end; posts, pictures, and commentary can last forever.  In this regard, social media bullying can be much more humiliating than real-world bullying by virtue of the number of people and the extended time period involved.

Social media bullying can also be much more extreme, as teens will often speak much more harshly on social media than they would if they were speaking directly to a person.  Negative commentary can also lead to a “piling on” effect, in which others will contribute their own destructive commentary once a negative thread has started.

Cyberbullying and Social Media Bullying Causes Real Harm

Bullying on the Internet and social media often results in embarrassment and ridicule from peers, hasleadto self-harm, isolation,and even suicide.  When victimized by such bullying, many teens feel that there is no way to undo the harm caused once social postings are made.

New York Strikes Back at Cyberbullying

New York’s 2012 Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) provides the foundation for protections against bullying on social media. DASA requires a school district to adopt “policies intended to create a school environment that is free from discrimination or harassment.” The school district’s personnel are required to “lead or supervise the thorough investigation of all reports of harassment, bullying and discrimination.” Additionally, DASA mandates a “minimum suspension period, for students who repeatedly are substantially disruptive of the educational process.”

New York School Districts Can be Held Liable Under DASA

In a recent case, J.G.S. v. Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, a New York Court ruled that a school district can be held liable under DASA, and that school districts have a duty to regulate cyberbullying by students. We hope that the DASA and this case will serve as a wake-up call for school districts to stop cyberbullying. Are Parents Liable for Cyberbullying?  Nearly three dozen states have enacted laws banning cyberbullying.  In addition to school districts, those engaged in the bullying themselves can be held liable for their actions under tort theories including defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

There are a number of states considering whether to adopt laws making parents liable criminally or civilly for cyberbullying done by their teens.   We expect that this will be an evolving area of the law.

How Our Firm Helps Those Who Have Been Subject to Cyberbullying 

If you or your son or daughter has been the victim of cyberbullying and significant injuries or death resulted, please call us for a free, no-obligation consultation so that we can learn about your case.  Once we understand the facts and circumstances, we can explain what actions can be taken to prevent future bullying, and how we may be able to help.  If your case is accepted, we will work tenaciously in seeking to obtain for you the damages and full compensation to which you may be entitled, and to hold accountable all those who are legally responsible.

103 W. Seneca Street, Suite 301
Ithaca, NY 14850
Telephone: (607) 272-5590
Fax: (607) 272-5594

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