Cyberbullying in schools is one of the most troubling activities currently plaguing our educational system. When children are bullied, they can’t focus, they don’t feel that they fit in, and they often lose interest in school. This creates absenteeism, depression, and even suicide among school-age children and teenagers in our society.
According to the California Attorney General: “Anyone who sends any online communication to deliberately frighten, embarrass, harass, or otherwise target another is a cyber bully.” California Penal Code section 652.3 is slightly more specific, and states that every person who, with the intent to place another person in reasonable fear for their safety of the safety of their immediate family, by means of an electronic communication device, for the purpose of harassing, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail, by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. Penal Code § 652.3 also makes it a crime to electronically distribute or make available personal identifying information, including a digital image of another person, or an electronic message of a harassing nature about another person, which would be likely to incite or produce unlawful action.
California law defines harassment as: A knowing and willful course of conduct that a reasonable person would consider as seriously alarming, seriously annoying, seriously tormenting, or seriously terrorizing and that serves no legitimate purpose (Penal Code § 652.3). Electronic act as related to cyberbullying means: The transmission of a communication, including a message, text, sound, or image, or a post on a social network, by means of an electronic device. This means that any post through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or email qualifies as an electronic act, and thus subjects the sender to potential liability for cyberbullying.