Seven sort of abuse or harassment, be it

 

        Seven
years ago, almost all the news channels of the United states were flooded with
the

suicide case of a teenager. An 18-year-old violinist
named Tyler Clementi, who was a first year

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student at Rutgers University ended his life
tragically by an intentional jumping off the

Washington Bridge. Tyler fell victim to the harsh
attacks of a cyberbully. Devastated by the

humiliation of cyber bullying, Tyler took his life.
He was harassed by his own roommate, Darun

Ravi who videotaped Tyler’s private moments with his
male companion and posted it publically

with the cruel intent of exposing and humiliating
him in front of other fellow students. The rise

of social media websites along with facilities of
sharing pictures and videos online has lead to the

emergence of a new form of public bullying,
cyberbullying. It has become a well-known and

controversial issue which has emerged to become one
of the major causes of deaths among

young children and adolescents. Although usually any
sort of abuse or harassment, be it direct or

indirect or in any other form, that leads to grave
consequences such as suicide or murder or any

other kind of harm to any individual should be
considered criminal, yet cases of cyberbullying

are not considered serious enough to be termed as
criminal. And since, cyber bullying is the new-

age way of indirect harassment that is leading to
deaths and severe consequences, it should be

criminalized.

 

       Bullies
who misuse their physical strength for repeatedly taking advantage or asserting

control over the weaker person has been a big
problem in schools and colleges for generations.

Psychologists and school administrators consider
bullying as an act which tends to social and

serious psychological problems for both the bully
and the victim. The invention of the Internet

has taken bullying from real to a virtual world.
Unlike the bully preying upon victims face to

face, cyberbullying may occur anywhere all that is
required for this is access to electronic

technology such as computers, tablets, cellular
phones or any devices that are capable of

accessing the Internet. With the growing technology
and also ignorance towards this problem,

cyberbullying has evolved into new and worse forms. A
cyberbully is surrounded with various

options like emails, text messages, or pictures and
videos posted on social networking websites

as their basic weapons of choice to degrade
someone’s reputation in minutes. Justin W.Patchin,

Ph.D., co-director of Cyber bullying Research Center
at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire,

agrees in his article that, “Bullying that started
in email and chat rooms in the early days of the

Internet has evolved into other forms mostly social
networking sites and instant messaging, as

well as video and pictures.”

 

      Online
harassment involves the perpetrator who intentionally or unintentionally harass
and

harm their victims through services available on
internet. Patchin, author of “Words Wound:

Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go
Viral” (Free Spirit Publishing, December2013),

has been studying cyberbullying among secondary students
for more than a decade, starting in

2001. He has surveyed nearly 15,000 students across
the United States. Most cases seem to

involve middle school or high school students, whom
experts say, are in the primary age group

for such behavior. However, as social media continues
its pervasive intrusion into everyday

lives, cyberbullying is trickling up to college campuses
and even into the workplace.

Researchers, law enforcement lawyers, college officials
and students say there are more reported

incidents of acts of cyberbullying cropping up on campus
and a rise in incidents of teenage

suicide has coincided with the rise in incidents of
cyberbullying. And as this can happen

anywhere, at any time which puts up a big dilemma
for schools and colleges: how can they

handle cyberbullying that takes place off campus?
And, how to deal with an unknown bully

whose real identity is hidden behind the technology?

 

        In this new age of technology, words are more
powerful to hurt anyone than their actions.

Just like any other victim of bullying, cyberbullied
kids experience anxiety, fear, depression, and

low self-esteem. But targets of cyberbullying also
experience some unique consequences and

negative feelings. Electronic
harassment is as real as and often more frightening than face-to-face

bullying. Much like other kinds of assaults like
stalking in which the victim feels frightened and

helpless, cyber bullying can be directly compared to
stalking in a virtual manner. The victims are

left scared, isolated, depressed, frozen, ashamed
and not likely to share what is happening in

their life with their parents and even friends. Victims
lose their feeling of security. Typically, this

is because their privacy at home or any other place
can be easily invaded by the bully through his

computer or any other electronic device. They no
longer find a place to escape. The victim feels

like he or she is bullied wherever they are.
Additionally, as the cyber bullies are anonymous.

This escalates feelings of fear inside them and in
this situation most of them consider ending

their lives as the only solution, the only escape.

 

       Cyber
bullying has emerged to become one of the major reasons of increased suicide
rate

among the youth, around the world and yet it is not
considered as a crime. Cyber Bullying is

often ignored as a cybercrime due to the fact that
it is not as widely publicized as more

traditional cybercrimes like identity theft and
piracy. It also has a very ambiguous nature. While

piracy and identity theft have clear definitions
that leave no doubt as to whether a crime has been

committed, labeling an act as cyber bullying is not
as clear-cut. One may perceive it as an act of

innocent joking, while for others it can be
perceived as a malicious intent. In the article,

“Addressing Cyber Harassment: An Overview of
Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”, Danielle Keats

Citron who is a professor of Law at the University
of Maryland Francis King Carey School of

Law and is an internationally recognized expert on
privacy has put up the contradiction that

instead of penalizing the perpetuators, how
cyberbullied victims are treated by the general

public. She says that, “Although the abuse often
involved threats, defamation, and privacy

invasions, commentators regarded it as “no big
deal.” Victims were told to stop “whining”

because they chose to blog about controversial
topics or to share nude images of themselves with

confidantes. Victims were advised to toughen up or
go offline. The choice was theirs—that was

the deal.” With this staggering rise in technology
related crimes, especially with the younger

generation, comes an interesting questions, should
cyber bullying be prosecuted? Should we

have cyberbullying laws? Are the laws helping
victims in need, or do they wrongly and harshly

punish minor crimes? Is there a compromise that
could be reached with cyberbullying laws?”

The intensity and seriousness of these questions
lead to only one answer, which is, cyberbullying

has worse consequences that demands it to be
criminalized.

 

       Although
there have already been several tragedies were cyberbullying was the main
cause,

yet ironically, many people still believe that
cyberbullying is not as large a problem with school

students as it is made out to be and hence, not
considered a criminal offence yet. According to an

article in The New York Times
titled, “Dharun Ravi,” journalist Kate Zernike stated that the

punishment received by the cyberbully Ravi for
harassing his roommate Tyler to death was that

he faced trial and was convicted of bias
intimidation as a hate crime. The judge, however, did not

find him guilty of Tyler’s suicide. Nor he was
considered a reason for contributing to Tyler’s

death .Which eventually lead to a mere 30-days in
jail sentence for Ravi, of which he hardly

served 20. This ignites a debate that what should be
the appropriate punishment for cyberbullies

who aim for tearing down their victim publically,
and whether these offences should be

considered malicious enough to be punished by law?
And
the answer is, yes, the light

punishment received by Ravi by labelling it as a
minor hate crime was totally unjust to the victim

and his family. Legal action is a necessary penalty
for these deliberate acts of calumniation

because cyberbullying cannot be managed effectively
by schools and parents alone. Cyber

bullying is creating disturbances at schools and
colleges, by causing significant pain, anguish and

state of depression for its victims, which many times
has resulted to deaths.

 

        Those people who oppose legal consequences
for online harassment that cyber bullies

should not be blamed for the reaction of their
target. , Orin S. Kerr Professor of Law and

cybercrime specialist, has expressed his views in
The New York Times article “Bullying,

Suicide, Punishment,” that the offenders should be prosecuted
for the crime they committed

instead of debating about how their victim responded
to their harassment. This release the

cyberbully of any contribution to the consequences the
offense. If this is the thinking, courts

should stop charging robbers with first-degree
murder in case they “accidentally” murder their

victim while committing their initial felony.
Whether it was intentional or not, expected or not,

the act comes out as the result of the crime
committed, for which they should be strictly

punished. Cyber bullies should be blamed comletely
for the outcome of their offenses and should

be prosecuted according to the damage they caused.

 

       Many
experts argue that prevention education from parents and teachers is more
effective

than legislation in case of cyber bullying. This is
not 100% effective as according to many

surveys. Suzanne Phillips, an
Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Doctoral Program

of Long Island University puts up a survey that, “Only
35% of cyberbullied teens and 51% of

preteens told parents.” She further supports her
findings by saying that, “The reasons given by

teens in focus groups were fear of restriction from
electronic use, fear of being blamed or

expectation of parents’ overreactions.” This proves
that one of the major reasons for supporting

legal regulation for cyberbullies is that schools
and parents have failed to effectively patrol cyber

abuse on their own. Some parents do not have time
enough so that they can monitor over their

kids’ online activity while others lack computer
skills to do so. The victims are more often afraid

of the severe consequences like revenge and their
further defamation, this holds them back from

reporting against the bullies to the authorities.
This situation unable parents and school

administration in managing the violations. Wendy J
Murphy, an adjunct professor of sexual

violence law at New England has
pointed out in her article “Federal Law Requires Schools to

Protect Children from Cyberbullying,” that such
cases of cyberbullying, where school authorities

are made aware of the viciousness of cyber bullies
and the consequences of their attacks on

victims, schools interference is not considered for
the off-campus cyber bullying events,

therefore this makes schools authorities hesitant of
involving in any such case. For instance, like

in Tyler’s case, the school authorities were aware
of the bullying faced by Tyler, but they failed

to take any action, potentially missing an
opportunity to get the law involved and prevent Tyler’s

death.(Murphy).

 

        Ben
Leichtling, a well-known psychotherapist who wrote “Bullies Below the Radar”
and

“How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” has explained
the need of laws against cyber bullying by

saying, “The furor is not
overblown, and we do need federal laws to stop cyber bullying,

harassment and abuse.” In the following viewpoint,
he emphasize the need of federal laws to

protect children from cyber bullying. He further
adds to his views that even if cyber bullying

laws would cause some difficulties, providing some
legal protection to the victims is better than

no protection. Anderson, Wayne L has mentioned in
his article how the consequences of cyber

bullying lead to emergence of laws against it,
“Missouri passed the Megan Meier law after

Megan Meier (age 13) committed suicide due to the
harassment that she received online. States

are beginning to recognize that cyber bullying is more
than one child ‘picking on’ another.”  

Similarly, the rapid increase of cyber bullying and
its severe consequences has made many other

states of USA include provisions that prohibit
activities of both online-harassment and stalking.

A handful of states, such as Arizona, Alabama,
Hawaii, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Illinois

and New York have specifically included prohibitions
against harassing electronic, computer or

email communicators in their harassment legislation.
(Anderson). Unfortunately, there are still

many states left to criminalize cyber bullying and
most of the punishments are limited to just

expulsion or suspension from school, which are not
strict enough to control cyber bullying. 

 

       Cyber
bullying torments, threatens, harass, humiliates, embarrass or otherwise
targets

someone to the limit of disturbing their mental as
well as physical balance completely. Cyber

bullying is a big problem in today’s society and
should be criminalized. It is a widespread

problem. Surveys have found about 53% of teens guilty
of saying hurtful things to others on

social media. Which makes about 21,200,000 teens out
of total population. Out of this, about 1/3,

(i.e. over 7,000,000 teens) admitted that they have
done it repeatedly, which comes under cyber-

bullying. Cyber-bullying starts at an early age. There
is a community named “The i-SAFE Inc.”

which initiates in extending e-Safety awareness
beyond the classroom (off-campus) by bringing

together school authorities, students, parents, guardians,
community leaders, and general public

together to spread this knowledge throughout the
entire community. Communities like i-SAFE

are working hard to limit the internet based
harassments and crime by spreading more and more

general awareness, but this will not be proved
completely helpful unless proper cyberbullying

criminalization laws will be established.

 

       Cyber-bullying
is more serious than normal bullying. For normal-bullying, the victims

knows who the bully is be it in his/her school or
neighbor. However, in case of cyber-bullying,

the bully is ambiguous. He/she could be anywhere on
the other side of the computer screen,

anywhere in the world and at any time! There is no
limit of place or time for cyber bullying.

Normal-bullying usually occurs during school hours
or, whenever the victim is outside his safe

environment like his house, but cyber-bullying can
happen anytime, anywhere. Clearly, cyber-

bullying is more extensive than normal bullying.
However, according to the Legal intern of the

United states Attorney’s office, Tiffany Sumrall, in
her article, “Lethal Words: The Harmful

Impact of Cyberbullying and the Need for Federal
Criminalization”, she has described the

severity of cyber bullying by the example of a
seventh grader teenager, Amanda Todd who,

distressed by online harassment, hanged herself to
death. Prior to her suicide, she posted a video

describing her struggles of how she was harassed by
a stranger who posted her naked video

online. She further added how this incident spurred
legislative action against cyberbullying in

Canada, “In the aftermath of Amanda Todd’s suicide, Canada
passed a bill criminalizing the

posting of intimate images of another individual
without her permission.”

 

       Although
suicide cases may bring media recognition to the problem of cyberbullying,

cyberbullying affects more than the handful of
suicide victims. Cyberbullying is widespread;

fifty percent of people age fourteen to twenty-four
report being a victim of digital abuse at some

point in their life. The harm caused by widespread
cyberbullying raises a need for laws

prohibiting cyberbullying to protect all of these
victims.

       Criminalizing
cyber bullying would act as a deterrent. If cyber bullying will be criminalized,

it would decrease the number of people who do it,
because they will be aware that there is the

possibility of getting in trouble for it. For
example: before there were laws about using cell

phones while driving, almost everyone at one point
or another used their phones while driving,

even though they knew that it’s wrong. However,
after the implementation of cell phone laws

while driving, there are less people who use phones while
they’re driving, because now they

know consequences of breaking these rules. The same
idea applies here. If people will be aware

of the fact that they could get into some serious trouble
for cyber bullying someone, then almost

everyone is going to be a lot less tempted to do so.
The risk of getting in trouble is enough for

some people to just say “no” and save the
future of the youth around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works
Cited

 

Anderson, Wayne L. “Cyber Stalking (Cyber Bullying)
– Proof and Punishment”. Insights to
Changing World Journal, no. 4, Dec. 2010, pp. 18-23.

 

Citron, Danielle Keats. “Addressing Cyber
Harassment: An Overview of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.” Journal of Law, Technology & the
Internet, vol. 6, no. 1, Fall2014-Spring2015, pp. 1-11.

 

Leichtling, Ben. “Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Are
Needed to Fight Cyberbullying.” Netiquette
and Online Ethics, edited by Noah Berlatsky, Greenhaven Press, 2013.

 

Murphy,
Wendy J. “Federal Law
Requires Schools to Protect Children from Cyberbullying” Utah
Law Review, vol. 2017, no. 4, Aug. 2017, pp. 801-814.

 

Patchin,
Justin W. & Sameer Hinduja, “Words Wound : Delete Cyberbullying and  Make Kindness Go Viral”, 2014 pbk. Free Spirit Publishing.
978-1-57542-451-4.

 

Phillips,
Suzanne. “Cyberbullying Is Dangerous.” Bullying, edited by Noah Berlatsky, Greenhaven Press, 2015. Originally
Published as “Dealing With Cyberbullying: Online and Dangous”

 

Schwartz,
John, Kerr, Orin S. “Bullying, Suicide, Punishment.” The New York Times, 03 Oct. 2010. Web.
04 Dec.

 

Sumrall,
Tiffany. “Lethal Words: The Harmful Impact of Cyberbullying and the Need
for Federal Criminalization.” Houston
Law Review, vol. 53, no. 5, Spring2016, pp. 1475-1501

 

“Tyler
Clementi Case: Darun Ravi’s Hate Crime Charge”, ABC News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGIzshTzshVU.

Zernike,
Kate “Dharun Ravi.” The New
York Times. N.p., 21 June 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2012.