Gone are the days when bullying happened only on the playground. Nowadays, parents must keep close tabs on their children’s social media accounts and other online platforms. If the young one in your family engages in cyberbullying, he or she may face serious consequences both from school officials and prosecutors.
Wisconsin law requires school districts to implement policies to address and reduce bullying. While the district’s policy may lead to punishment for on-campus behavior, other laws may draw the attention of local prosecutors. Here are some criminal laws your child may violate if he or she engages in online bullying:
In the Badger State, criminal harassment occurs when someone intimidates another person. Generally, to be guilty of the crime, an individual must perform at least two harassing actions. Still, the penalties for this type of behavior can be substantial, especially if there are aggravating factors. If severe, harassment may be a misdemeanor that carries with it a possible jail sentence and fine.
Stalking is another type of cyberbullying prohibited by state law. Stalking happens when someone attempts to scare or intimidate another. If the behavior is pervasive or ongoing, prosecutors may attempt to curtail it by bringing criminal charges. Unlike harassment, which is a misdemeanor, stalking may be a felony. As such, your child may face a substantial prison sentence if cyberbullying constitutes stalking.
Finally, Wisconsin has criminal statutes that relate to the use of telecommunications devices. Using the telephone to threaten or harass someone may violate state law. Additionally, bullying on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat or through e-mail may constitute an unlawful use of computerized communications, a violation of state law. Telecommunications offenses are often forfeiture crimes that result in a fine.
A criminal conviction may harm your child’s future. By understanding cyberbullying and related criminal laws, you can better advocate for your young one’s interests.