It can come as a shock if the school accuses your child of bullying. When you meet with a representative at the school, they say your child has not hurt anyone physically. What they are accusing them of is cyberbullying.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the term for bullying that takes place electronically via the internet or cell phone services. For something to be classified as bullying, there must be a series of actions. A one-off event does not constitute bullying. There must also be an intent to harm someone. Innocently sharing a photo or series of images, which someone gets upset about, is not bullying if there was no mean intent behind it. Here are some examples that may classify as cyberbullying:
- Posting derogatory comments about someone on social media
- Sharing photos or videos on the internet intended to make someone feel bad or embarrassed
- Sending threatening emails or texts
Does the school have the right to take action for things that occur outside school?
Pennsylvania law requires schools to have programs in place to deal with cyberbullying, or cyber harassment as the state calls it. So, yes, schools do have the right to deal with cyberbullying incidents, whether they occur in or out of school.
The consequences can be severe. In addition to measures the school may impose, the state code makes cyber harassment of a child a third-degree misdemeanor. If a juvenile is found guilty, they will be required to take part in a diversionary program.
What should you do if child faces cyberbullying accusations?
If your child is accused of cyberbullying, talk with a legal professional who can help you protect your child’s rights. While schools have the right to take legal action, they can only do so with a valid reason.