As the lines between real and virtual life blur, the damaging effects of cyber bullying comes into sharper focus. The cultural shifts that has evolved with technology means this type of electronic harassment, discrimination and abuse can occur day and night. The most damaging aspect of cyber bullying is that it can be perpetuated continuously for weeks and even months by innumerable responders on a global scale. The reverberating effects of which can and have been known to end in violence and death.
According to numerous studies and a consumer surveys, more than a million children in America are experiencing cyber bullying annually. Florida law (Fla. Stat. Ann. §1006.147.) describes cyber bullying as a “crime of stalking and harassment” that occurs through the use of electronic communication. These include text messages, faxes, emails and internet based communication tools such as social media websites. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that students between 8 to 18 years of age are “plugged in” to one or more of these electronic devices for an average of seven hours daily.
Effects of Cyberbullying
It is not uncommon for victims of cyber bullying to experience a range of emotions such as embarrassment, humiliation, depression, anger and anxiety. Research suggest that the impact on victims of this cyber-crime can have adverse and long-term mental health effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recognize cyberbullying as a major contributor to suicide which is the third leading cause of death among young people. In fact, according to an AP-MTV survey, a shockingly high percentage of victims of cyberbullying have a stronger propensity to commit suicide than those who do not have this experience. The CDC also estimate that there are at least one hundred failed suicide attempts for every completed suicide that occur among young people every year.
The increasing number of suicide and school shootings linked to cyber bullying that is played out as high profile media stories in the last decade or so is also of grave concern. Though egregious however, these sad events have spearheaded various changes in legislative actions such as criminal harassment statures and a wide range of penalties to make cyber bullies more accountable. In fact, with more and more states expanding their laws to include “cyber bullying” judicial efforts to stop electronic persecution is fast becoming a nationwide trend. These changes are giving more victims of cyber bullying a voice and the ability to bring charges against perpetrators.
What Victims of Cyber Bullying Can Do?
- Never assume that being bullied via an electronic device is normal and that it will go away by itself.
- Do not facilitate cyber bullying by actively communicating with the bully or responding to the attack.
- Retain evidence of cyber bullying by printing screen shots from social media sites and save all other related material such as text messages, emails or blogs.
- Report the attacks to parents, guardians, school counselors, law enforcement and the social media site that is being used.
- Parents can help their child by getting legal advice. A qualified personal injury attorney can investigate your legal rights based on the circumstances of the attacks. For younger children, parents can monitor their internet and cell phone usage more closely and make a record of the attacks prior to deleting the cyber bullying information or disabling accounts. Parents should also ensure that the incident is reported to the appropriate authorities.
- If relevant, seek psychological counseling to counter any negative emotional effects that the cyber bullying attacks may be having on your child such as:
- Loss of self-esteem.
- Withdrawal from normal activities such as school and social events.
- The development of any negative patterns of behavior such as cutting, use of alcohol, drugs, suicidal thought or attempts
7. Keep a record of any mental health services and monetary expense incurred as a direct result of the cyber bullying.
If your child is a victim of cyber bullying, contact the law office of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath for a free consultation today at (561) 655-1990 or visit our website to find how you can protect your child and stop the harassment.
About Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath
Conveniently located in West Palm Beach for 27 years, Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, LLP concentrates in Personal Injury, Wrongful death, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability and Auto accidents. At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we specialize in helping victims and their families get fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligence or recklessness of others. Our main areas of practice include personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, and premise liability. We provide each client with the highest quality representation from a top Florida accident and injury lawyer.
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West Palm Beach
Florida, FL 33401
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