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Sometimes, new technologies require the development of new laws. There is nothing new about bullying, but cyberbullying is a problem that society is still figuring out how to deal with. It includes harassment, intimidation, or threats that happen on the internet or other forms of mobile technology. 

There are no federal laws regulating cyberbullying, but almost every state, including South Carolina, has enacted laws to fight back against cyberbullies. 

Why Is Cyberbullying Such a Big Deal?

Bullying is too often viewed as a “right of passage,” something kids and adults should just deal with and get over. The truth is that bullying can be incredibly harmful to a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Cyberbullying can be even worse. 

With cyberbullying, there is no escape. Bullies can torment through constant texts and comments in group chats, gaming communities, and social media sites 24 hours a day. Also, cyberbullying is permanent. 

Unlike cruel words on the playground that will be forgotten by most in a day or two, once they are on the internet, unflattering (or fake) images, cruel words, and defamatory lies live forever. 

With cyberbullying, a person can be targeted by dozens or even thousands of strangers who participate in the torment. Instead of dealing with a single bully, the victim may feel as though the whole world is against them when people they don’t even know join in. 

Protection Under the Law

Increasing incidents of school violence and suicide related to cyberbullying prompted some legislators to begin treating cyberbullying as a criminal matter. It is now possible to hold offenders accountable in South Carolina. 

In South Carolina, laws against bullying have been extended to include electronic means of communication. However, penalties for cyberbullying are different from county to county and even from one school district to another. 

Enforcing the laws can be a challenge of its own. It’s key to find an attorney who is experienced with anti-cyberbullying laws and feels passionate about finding justice for victims of bullying.

Building a Strong Case

Unfortunately, victims must be proactive in documenting incidents of cyberbullying if they plan on bringing a civil or criminal case against their bullies. Some of the steps you can take to help your attorney build a strong case include:

  • Reporting harassment on the platform on which it occurred
  • Reporting any anonymous accounts you believe belong to the perpetrator
  • Taking screenshots of any threatening messages 
  • Reporting any threats that include the use of explosives directly to the FBI

If cyberbullying occurs between students at the same school, report any incidents to the principal immediately.

Documenting all evidence and showing that you have done your part to stop cyberbullying, such as blocking bullies, shows lawmakers that you have tried to resolve the matter on your own and that legal intervention is required. 

What Are the Consequences?

Under South Carolina law, any person who knowingly engages in cyberstalking or cyberbullying can face criminal charges for unlawful communications, harassment, or stalking. 

If the conduct is found to be at the level of criminal harassment, penalties will be consistent with second-degree harassment. The charge may be elevated to first-degree harassment if cyberstalking included:

  • Surveilling the victim’s school, residence, or place of work
  • Vandalizing the victim’s property
  • Following the victim
  • Making physical or visual contact with the victim after an incident report was filed or after being told the contact was unwanted

Second-degree harassment carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of one year in jail. First-degree harassment is a class A misdemeanor and may result in a three-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,000.

Stop Cyberbullying Today

Cyberbullying is against the law in South Carolina. The Law Office of Mo Abusaft is here to help. Contact our experienced criminal law attorney if you or your child has been victimized by cyberbullying.