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What Is Cyberbullying, and Is it a Crime in Tennessee?

 Posted on April 28,2020 in Criminal Defense

Union County juvenile crimes attorney

To some, cyberbullying may seem like a phenomenon that is dramatized on television, but with the rise of technology and cell phones in the hands of young people, cyberbullying is a real issue that many children face. It is not uncommon for minors to get caught up in cyberbullying, since many may not recognize that what they are doing is considered bullying. The good and the bad thing about technology is that it records everything. In other words, if your son or daughter has been a victim of cyberbullying or has been the one sending the mean messages, there is likely evidence that can be used for or against them. For those being bullied, this can lead to the necessary justice that may not be possible without technology. However, for those doing this bullying, this could lead to juvenile criminal charges in Tennessee.

What Actions Are Considered “Cyberbullying?”

Cyberbullying holds the same weight and meaning as any other form of bullying, but it involves actions committed through electronic means. Schools can take action against any form of bullying or harassment to try to protect their students. In Tennessee, any of the following can be considered harassment, intimidation, or bullying:

  • Physically hurting a student or damaging his or her property

  • Knowingly making a student fear for his or her safety or fear that his or her property may be damaged

  • Causing emotional distress to a student

  • Creating a hostile environment for a student

If any of these acts are committed on school grounds or at an educational event, the school is able to press charges or take disciplinary action against the threatening student. However, the school also has this authority even if the actions occur off school grounds. Studies show that the stress or anxiety caused by harassment can disrupt a student’s ability or willingness to learn, even if it occurs away from school. If an attorney can prove this to be true, the school or victimized student may still have a case against an alleged cyberbully.

What Does This Mean for Schools?

Tennessee's anti-bullying legislation places a certain amount of responsibility on educators. These laws contain specific requirements for school districts. Tennessee school districts must make information regarding bullying prevention programs available to their students and parents. This is an important step in helping avoid bullying from happening in the first place, whether it is in person or via electronics. These districts are also required to train their teachers and counselors on their anti-bullying policies and how they should enforce the guidelines. They must also be informed on the proper procedure to refer students to appropriate counseling or support services if they deem this necessary

Call a Knoxville, TN Criminal Defense Attorney

No parent wants to find out that his or her child is a victim, but it can be even more difficult for a parent to accept that his or her child was the one doing the harassing. Instances of cyberbullying can be classified as harassment or stalking, depending on the circumstances. For minors, a charge like this can leave a blemish on their record for college admissions and future job opportunities. Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney understands how a small charge can hold serious consequences. He works tirelessly for his clients to provide them with a second chance. If your child is facing charges related to cyberbullying, contact our Knox County juvenile defense lawyer at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free consultation.


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