Effective: September 8, 2015
Pennsylvania’s Cyber Bullying Law now provides protection to children from bullying and harassment by electronic means directly to a child or via social media, making cyber harassment of a child a criminal act.
• Makes cyber harassment of a child a criminal act. • Includes the use of electronic communications directly to the child or through an electronic social media service.
• Includes threats to inflict harm as well as making seriously disparaging statements or opinions about the child’s physical characteristics, sexuality, sexual activity, mental or physical health.
• Cyber harassment is a third degree misdemeanor.
• Juveniles who engage in this behavior are subject to a diversionary program.
How this impacts advocates:
While Pennsylvania already had an existing harassment statute, this did not include harassment using electronic means. This statute provides a criminal remedy for bullying using electronic means either directly to a child or via social media.
How this impacts survivors:
Children previously were not afforded protection from cyber harassment, but are now provided protection under criminal statute. This sends a clear message that bullying via electronic means is a serious matter and that both physical and emotional safety of children is important.