For years, people have been talking about the harmful consequences of cyberbullying. Yet, many continue to use the internet as a way to safeguard themselves while attacking others. And although this method may seem safe to the cyberbully, there are plenty of harsh consequences. As these acts have become more prevalent and more intense with the advancement of technology, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what the definitions and the various consequences of these harmful acts.
Definition of Cyberbullying
Stopbullying.gov defines cyberbullying as “bullying that takes place over digital devices…[it] includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else.” This has become even more of an issue with the prevalence of social media, cellphones, and technology in general.
In fact, the prevalence of technology has raised cyberbullying statistics—research shows that “Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.”
Cyberbullying is a crime of harassment—which means that one person acts in a way designed to annoy, provoke, threaten, or cause another person emotional distress. Harassers must perform this crime with a specific intent—meaning that in court, a prosecutor has to show that the defendant did something with the intent to harass or harm the victim.
Definition of Cyberstalking
Marshall University defines cyberstalking as “the use of the internet, e-mail, or other telecommunication technologies to harass or stalk another person…cyberstalking is an extension of the physical form of stalking.” This physical extension is just like how cyberbullying is an extension of bullying—both can be mentally, emotionally, and psychologically damaging.
Examples of this behavior fall under a wide range of techniques. Oftentimes cyberstalking begins by using the internet to identify and track victims. Cyberstalkers then take further steps to truly solidify this harassing behavior. For example, they may set up a web page about the victim with personal or fake information. With the constant improvements to technology, cyberstalking has even come to include small cameras hidden in inconspicuous places to watch the victim or take pictures of them.
Below we’ll delve into the various consequences of cyberbullying and cyberstalking in Oregon.
Consequences of Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking
The state of Oregon requires each school district to update its policy to forbid harassment, intimidation, or bullying—this includes cyberbullying and other cyberharassment forms. The Oregon Safe Schools Act of 2009 is in place to specifically combat these various forms of harassment.
Since both cyberbullying and cyberstalking are considered crimes of harassment in Oregon, these are charged as Class B misdemeanors. All first-time harassment offenses are misdemeanors, meaning that the following legal consequences may come about:
- Fine of up to $2,500
- Up to six months in jail
- A combination of the two
For crimes involving the distribution of sexual or nude images of someone underage
- Fine of up to $6,250
- Up to a year in jail
- A combination of the two
Apart from legal charges, harassment can result in civil actions brought about by the victim. The majority of cyberharassment crimes result in a restraining order. Violations of a restraining order can ensue further criminal charges.
For those charged with a harassment Clackamas County crime, reach out to an attorney for help. Jared Justice is a criminal defense attorney who is here to aid you in your defense.