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Cyberbullying is not always so clear cut

One of the new crimes getting a great deal of press in this Internet age in which we live is that of cyberbullying. The term refers to the act of bullying taking place in the cyber realm, or in other words, by means of the Internet. One of a number of Internet crimes, cyberbullying is serious, as is the accusation of being a cyberbully.

A recent report included cyberbullying statistics from an anti-bullying organization's website. Some of the statistics regarding cyberbullying mentioned things such as embarrassing photos being posted online and the use of 'hate terms.' It also noted that 95 percent of those who witness cyberbullying occurring on social media networks simply ignore the behavior.

The statistics on cyberbullying can be staggering. However, those statistics do not tell the entire story. A closer look at them reveals some loose terminology behind the label of cyberbullying. For instance, the term 'hate speech' receives a lot of press in both real life and in terms of cyberbullying.

But what is hate speech to one could be seen as protected free speech to another. What one person may feel is simply launching an insult at someone may be received or interpreted as hate speech by the recipient or a witness. This disagreement in definition can lead to accusations and legal action being launched.

With so many actions being labeled as cyberbullying, it is easy to see how some mistakes will be made. It is easy to see that some false accusations or misunderstandings will occur. The individual who faces cyberbullying accusations may herself feel bullied. In fact, the report noted that sometimes the person who feels targeted may become 'the aggressor' in response, thus cyberbullying the person he felt bullied by.

Just the accusation of being a cyberbully can affect schooling, employment and personal relationships.

Fortunately for those who come under such accusations, there is help available. Criminal defense attorneys can assist with counsel, investigative action and representation. They can review the facts of the accusation and any charges filed. They can then offer advice to the accused.

Source: Penn Live, “Cyberbullying leaves staggering statistics in its wake,” Eric Zveronikis, April 18, 2014

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Christopher A. Wellborn, P.A.
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