Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying

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.

Highlights:

• 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.

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