When you were a child, your schoolmates had little choice but to pick on each other in person. Times have changed considerably, of course, with most children having ready access to smartphones, laptops, tablets and electronic devices. The way your child uses these devices may put him or her in legal jeopardy.
According to Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, a cyberbully is anyone who uses online communications to harass, frighten, intimidate or threaten someone else. Cyberbullying is illegal in the Golden State, so it is imperative not to take a kids-will-be-kids approach to your child’s online activity.
California law makes it a misdemeanor to publish someone’s personal information for purposes of threatening, harassing or intimidating him or her. Known as doxxing, this behavior is alarmingly common among adolescents and teens who play online games. Doxxing may also occur on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.
It is possible to violate California law without disclosing someone’s personal information. Simply harassing someone online may meet the elements of a misdemeanor offense. Therefore, it is critical for you both to have clear rules for the young ones in your family to follow and to closely monitor their electronic communications.
If your child has cyberbullied someone else, there is a good chance he or she also has been a victim of cyberbullying. Consequently, when policing your child’s online activity, it is equally important to watch for signs of depression and anxiety. If your child exhibits these, he or she may benefit from talking to a family counselor or child therapist.
Finally, if your child is already facing cyberbullying charges, exploring all defense options may help him or her avoid the serious consequences that often come with a criminal conviction.