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Cyberbullying accusations can have serious consequences

| Dec 6, 2012 | Criminal Defense

Parents and educators in Tampa have become highly concerned about bullying among children in recent years. As the Internet has become nearly ubiquitous, teasing and nasty comments among students has gone online through social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Authorities have begun cracking down on those accused of cyberbullying.

In most cases, the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying are both children, but in a new case from another state, the accuser is an adult teacher at the suspect’s school. The suspect was a senior in high school when he publicly posted the teacher’s password to get access to a school website. After the password was made available, students posted sexually explicit and vulgar comments on the site. The teacher reportedly became upset and sought counseling to deal with the situation.

The student said that making the password available was intended as a senior class prank. He thought that his classmates would just put funny photos on the website. But the school, blaming him for the incident, has expelled him. If his appeal of the expulsion is denied, he will not be allowed to finish high school and graduate with his classmates.

Beyond suspensions and expulsions, at least one state has passed a law making cyberbullying against teachers and other adults at school a crime. If a similar law is passed in Florida, students could find themselves facing criminal penalties for ill-conceived but well-meaning pranks like the student in the story described above. In that case, minor would need to consult a defense attorney to formulate a defense.

Source: Huffington Post, “Massachusetts High School Student, Expelled For ‘Cyberbullying’ Senior Prank,” Dec. 4, 2012

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