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A Parents’ Guide to C b b ll i Cyberbullying

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


This is not your y Grandma’s assemblyy


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. The term "cyberbullying" is used when the victim or bully is a child or teen. The term cyber harassment is used when the victim is an adult.


Common Cyberbullying Tactics Stealing someone someone’ss online name and using it to write nasty rumors, comment, or spread gossip. i Postingg damaging g g information on blogs or web sites. Making a targeted Facebook page Creating or taking part in Internet polling or list-making


Cyberbullying y y g Example of cyberbullying b b ll i on iChat (Apple’s instant messaging) i )

Divagirl: Hey, loser, watch your back. t t323 What tmt323: Wh t r u talking about? Divagirl: Why don't you kill yourself while u r ahead? tmt323: Why can't you just leave me alone? Divagirl: Ugly girls like u need to be put in their place.


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?  18% of students in grades 6-8 said they had been cyberbullied at least once in the 2 months  6% said it happened 2 or more times  11% off students iin grades 6-8 6 8 said i y at least once in theyy had cyberbullied the last 2 months  2% said they had done it 2 or more times


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 iin 1999/2000


Not Myy Kid! Told parents: 51% of preteens and 35% of teens Told T ld ffriend:44% i d 44% off preteens t and d 72% of teens who’d been cyberbullied y told a friend Told no one: 16% of preteens and teens


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


Kowalski v. Berkeley Co. Schs (4th Cir. Ci 2011) Student created MySpace group harassing another student Creator of the page received • 10 10-day day suspension from school • 90-day “social suspension” Ct speech Ct.: h caused d substantial b t ti l disruption, p , therefore discipline p appropriate


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


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


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


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


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.


How Common is Sexting? g  Sexually suggestive photos sent: – 20% overall –22% girls –11% 11% young teen girls (ages 13 13-16) 16) –18 % boys


How Common is Sexting? g Sexually suggestive messages sent: –39% of all teens –37% girls –40% 40% boys 48% of teens say they have received sexting ti photos h t or messages.


Serious Consequences: Jessica Logan


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


Criminal Implications Under Nebraska Law  Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-813 et. seq.  Makes sexting (images) a class IV felony for offenders under 19  Class IIIA felony for 19 and up  Both punishable by: • Up to 5 years in prison and/or • $10,000 fine q sex offender registration g • Require


In re Katrina R.  15 year old texted nude pics to her BF  Was adjudicated “a child who deports herself so as to injure j or endanger g seriously the morals or health of herself e se or o others” ot e s • Placed in legal custody of HHS • 6 months’’ probation i • Required counseling and community service.


1. Talk to your kids about this issue  Make sure they understand that nothing in cyberspace is private  Talk through possible consequences – both short and long term


2. Get Involved in your child’s on-line life  Understand how a new technology works before letting your child use it.  Monitor their postings  Google your kids’ names  Check up on them - some cell carriers allow web retrieval of all texts -My Mobile Watchdog/Mobile Spy -Cyber Bully Alert


3. Place limits on electronic communication  Don’t let them charge the phone in their bedrooms  Place computers in public parts of the house  Limit texting during meals, homework time time, etc etc.


4. If your child is victimized  Tell your kid to stop communicating with the cyberbully  Do not erase the evidence  If necessary necessary, block problem callers/texters  Options • AT&T Parental Controls

• phone phone-specific specific Options • YouMail • Forward your child’s child s phone • Change your child’s number


4. If your child is victimized  Contact, as appropriate: • the th other th ffamily/families il /f ili • you your Internet te et provider, p ov de , the t e social soc a networking site, or cell phone company and file a complaint • the school • local law enforcement


5. If your child is the cyberbully  It happens – don’t automatically dismiss accusations  Impose consequences and stick to them  Warn of other consequences  Discuss limits and reasons for them  Ask your child why he/she thinks this behavior is acceptable p


Nothing is truly anonymous


A Parents’ Guide to C b b ll i Cyberbullying

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


Diller-Odell parents