Virtual Actions With Real Consequences
Feelings of sadness, anger and even thoughts of suicide have been attributed to cyberbullying, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center.
The National Crime Prevention Council has released a report regarding the negative impact that online bullying, called cyberbullying, can have on teens. According the NCPC, cyberbullying happens when teens use the Internet, cell phones or other devices to send or to post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.
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According to a survey conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center in February 2010, about twenty percent of those surveyed were found to be victims of cyberbullying. The same organization also found that the self-esteem of those who have been cyberbullied was nine percent lower on average, and, in a 2008 study, found that middle school victims were ten percent more likely to commit suicide than those who had not been targeted.
California passed a law in 2009 giving schools the power to suspend or expel students who harassed their peers through cyberbullying. A 2010 court case declared that cyberbullying threats were not protected by free speech. However, neither the law nor the decision eliminated these occurrences.
Laws have continued to target these practices and to subdue their effects. A law signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010 went into effect this January, and declared the act of impersonating others through the use of their social media sites, a tactic used by cyberbullies, was punishable by up to a $1000 fine, one year in prison or both.
For more information on the NCPC’s public advertising campaign to stop cyberbullying, visit the organizations website here. The page also provides links to other websites intended to educate people about cyberbullying and to help stop it.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of cyberbullying, contact the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s department at (661) 298-1220. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), by texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.