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Cyberbullying Has Consequences

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In a world where access to anything and everything is prevalent, it’s no surprise that bullying is no longer just found on the playground. It can now be found all over the worldwide web. Social media and electronic devices (smartphones, computers, etc.) have added another layer to this madness. People think that just because it’s done behind a computer that there’s some form of anonymity and the impact is less, but this is simply not true.

Almost five years ago a young girl, Rachel Emhke from Kasson, Minnesota, was bullied incessantly by peers from her school. Using online formats and mobile phones, access to a victim is 24/7. Rachel ultimately took her life after succumbing to depression resulting from the cyberbullying.

Recently, an Iowa city council person, Alex Kuhn, took his life after experiencing ongoing hate and malicious behavior from those opposed to his vote and stance on a pig farm.

Cyberbullyng has consequences for the victim and for the perpetrators. Ongoing harassment can exasperate a victim’s depression, leading them to desperately escape the assault – sometimes by taking their own life.

For the perpetrators, they can be held accountable for their bullish actions. Cyberbullying is considered a crime. The Minnesota Education department and the state of Minnesota has laws that prohibit behavior that harms another person.

1. As you can see, cyberbullying can be prosecuted as harassment when the defendant repeatedly sends or posts unwanted electronic communications to or about the victim in order to invade the victim’s privacy, or effect the victim’s safety. One way such electronic communication might affect the victim’s privacy and safety, for example, would be if the bully publically posted the entry code to the victim’s apartment on Facebook (or a similar website), knowing that someone could use it to break into the victim’s residence. (Mn. Stat. Ann. § 609.748.)


2. And while students may get help at school (and bullies should face school-imposed consequences), school-imposed sanctions do not preclude the victim from also seeking civil and criminal damages in court, described more under Penalties, below. (Mn. Stat. Ann. § 121A.0695.)

In a climate where behavior online seems more emboldened, use caution when interacting. One never knows how their severely harmful words and actions could impact another person.

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