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Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2018
Cyberbullying is a serious offense that can damage a child’s psychological, emotional, or even physical well-being. Because of well-documented cases of cyberbullying leading to suicide and self-harm of children and teenagers, many states, including West Virginia, have cyberbullying statutes on the books. These laws describe what qualifies as cyberbullying, the potential consequences, and even if parents can be liable for the damage their child causes. Learn about West Virginia’s cyberbullying laws and the consequences a parent might face for a child’s wrongdoing.
Cyberbullying is any malicious activity that takes place in the digital space on devices like phones, tablets, and computers. It may occur over text, apps, or social media. When other people can share, view, or post shameful or hurtful content about someone else, it sets the stage for cyberbullying. The act most commonly occurs:
Cyberbullying can be particularly harmful because it is:
Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of cyberbullying makes it a common phenomenon among both children and teenagers. According to the i-SAFE foundation:
West Virginia, like much of the nation, has statutes in place that address cyberbullying. Currently, cyberbullying is a civil offense, but a current law in the works would make it a criminal one if it passes. Under the proposal, cyberbullying a minor would become a crime under West Virginia law, punishable by a $500 fine and up to a year in jail, or both, depending on the circumstances.
If the law passes and is signed into law, using a computer to harass, bully, or intimidate anyone under the age of 18 would be outlawed. Underage violators of the law would likely face juvenile delinquency charges, unless the courts find a compelling reason to try the child as an adult.
Currently, parents may also be civilly liable for any damages their child causes as the result of cyberbullying. In other words, parents of a bullying child may have to pay the victim’s family’s economic or non-economic damages if they choose to file a claim against the child who committed the bullying. Examples of damages parents might be responsible for include medical bills, therapy costs, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or mental anguish.
In general, West Virginia views cyberbullying as a serious offense that can carry both civil and possible criminal punishments. Parents must be vigilant in monitoring their child’s online activity and ending any malicious activity before it escalates to serious harm. If they fail to do so, they could be liable for any damages that result. If you or your child has been the victim of cyberbullying in West Virginia, the personal injury lawyers at Manchin Injury Law Group are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.