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Sezgin Khousadian, LLP

The Fight Against Cyberbullying

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May 7, 2023 – In a world where the internet and social media are a prevalent part of students’ lives, cyberbullying has become a rising problem. Indeed, given the power of technology, the effects of cyberbullying can be traumatic.

Cyberbullying is when a person uses technology to demean, inflict harm, frighten, embarrass, harass, or cause pain. Cyberbullying can include direct attacks (hurtful messages sent directly to the target, even anonymously or through fake accounts), indirect attacks or campaigns (messages or pages dedicated to spreading hateful messages about the victim), and invasions of privacy (sharing a victim’s personal information with others). Cyberstalking is also a form of cyberbullying, in which someone willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and makes a credible threat with the intent to instill reasonable fear for the person’s safety or the safety of their family.

The California Education Code states that a local educational agency must adopt procedures for preventing acts of bullying, including cyberbullying. The Education Code further authorizes school officials to suspend or recommend for expulsion any student who engages in bullying.

Districts are also required to develop and post on their website an online training module to assist all school staff, administrators, parents, pupils, and community members in increasing their knowledge about bullying and cyberbullying. The online training shall include how to identify an act of bullying or cyberbullying and implement strategies to address bullying and cyberbullying. Strategies to address bullying, including cyberbullying, may be incorporated in a comprehensive safety plan.

In terms of criminal charges, California Penal Code Section 653.2 holds a person accountable if they participate in online bullying.

The goal of all districts should be to facilitate the safe and legal use of the internet by students.

Know your rights,