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Bullying & Cyberbullying

K Karen Haase H Harding & Shultz (402) 434-3000 khaase@hslegalfirm.com H & S School Law


Bullying? “any any ongoing pattern of physical, verbal, or electronic abuse . . . .�


Cyberbullying? Cyberbullying, v: the use of technology such as computers and cell phones to engage in i repeated, t d and dh hostile til b behavior h i byy an individual or group, g p that is intended to harm others.


How Common is Cyberbullying? ďƒ˜ one in four students between the g of 11 and 19 have been the ages victim of cyberbullying. ďƒ˜ Approximately A i t l 65 percentt off kids kid know of someone who has been cyberbullied.


How Common is Cyberbullying? ďƒ˜ Cyberbullying has increased dramatically in recent years. ďƒ˜ In nationally representative surveys of 10-17 year-olds, twice as many children and youth indicated they had been victims and perpetrators of online li harassment h t in i 2005 th than in1999/2000


Sexting? Sexting, v: (a combination of sex and texting) is the act of sending sexually ll explicit li it messages or photos electronically, p y p primarily y between cell phones.


Sextortion? Sextortion, n: the act of blackmailing individuals with sexting ti images i or message


So what’s what s the big deal?


School-Related Consequences  Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-2,137  Definition: “ongoing ongoing pattern of physical, verbal or electronic abuse”  Consequences: ─ Loss of extracurricular privileges ─ Detentions D t ti ─Short and Long Term Suspension ─Expulsion E li ─Alternative School Assignment


Examples p  Seattle, WA.: Students who “liked” Facebook page bullying a classmate p all suspended  Memphis TN: Honors student suspended for 180 days for commenting on a friend’s status


Civil Consequences  Student and parents can be sued • Suing for money; no jail time • Homeowners insurance often pays • Judgments can result in home f foreclosure l and d other h h hardship d hi  Suit can be for: • Intentional I i l infliction i fli i off emotional i l distress • Tortuous interference • Slander


Finkel v. Facebook (N.Y.)  High school students created private Facebook page about classmate • Called her a “slut” slut • Said she had AIDs • Said S id she h used dd drugs

 She sued Facebook and kids who created page  Facebook F b k di dismissed i d ffrom llawsuit; it students initially left in the case


Fulmer v. Swidler (Pa. 2003)  Middle school student created Teacher Sux” website Sux • • •

Compared math teacher to Hitler Had picture of her decapitated Asked for contributions toward hit man

 Teacher sued  Jury awarded $500,000  Similar suit by principal settled


D.C. v. R.S. (Cal. 2010)  High school student posted on victim’s website • • •

I want to rip out your f-ing f ing heart and feed it to you. I' wanted I've t d to t kill you. If I ever see yyou I'm ggoing g to pound p your head in with an ice pick.

 Family sued; defendant said just a joke  Litigation allowed to continue


Criminal Consequences (State Law)  Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-311.01  Terroristic Threats: “threatens to commit any crime of violence … • With the intent to terrorize another • In reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror  Class IV Felony punishable by: • Up to 5 years in prison and/or • $10,000 fine


In re Minor Child (Ala.)  High school students arrested at school for threatening classmate on y p MySpace • Threatened to beat him up • Said they would plant a bomb in his locker • Said he deserved to die

 Charged with making terroristic threats


State v. Murphy (NE)  Girl’s family disliked defendant  On O MySpace M S he h wrote: t • He was ggoingg to "beat the hell out of a lot of people" • He would be "killing killing a lot of people people.“ • Told girlfriend’s sister he didn’t “want to end d up killi killing her h or her h kid.” kid ”

 Charged with making terroristic threats


Criminal Implications of Sexting  Law enforcement reports that Adults prosecuted for possession of child pornography, solicitation and child i abuse  Students Prosecuted as well


Florida v. Alpert  Girlfriend sent pics  He forwarded pic to all contacts  Convicted of distribution of child pornography  On O sex offender ff d registry until he’s 43


Criminal Consequences (Federal Law)  Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030)  Originally passed to criminalize cyberterrorism  Has been used to punish cyberbullies  Punishable by: • Up to 20 years in prison and/or • $100,000 $100 000 fine


Some Questions to Ask Yourself About what You’re Posting


Questions? (402) 499-0547 499 0547


Bullying -- Centennial High School