Talk to your kids about cyberbullying

As a parent, you want your kids to have a bright future. In addition to legal consequences, a conviction for a criminal offense may follow the young ones in your family for the rest of their lives. While it may seem less serious than other criminal offenses, cyberbullying is a crime in Florida. 

If your children bully other kids online, prosecutors may charge them with cyberbullying. This may be true even if the bullying happens away from school. Consequently, to ensure they know the risks of their actions, you probably want to talk to your kids about the dangers of cyberbullying. 

Bullying using technology

Florida’s prohibition against cyberbullying includes using any technology or communications device to harass, intimidate or threaten someone else. The statute applies to many types of digital devices that children routinely use, including the following: 

  • Smartphones 
  • Text messages 
  • Instant messages 
  • Websites 
  • Social media 

Stopping harassing behavior

The purpose of Florida’s ban on cyberbullying is to stop harassing behavior. Like with communications devices, the statute has an expansive definition of “harassment.” Any illegitimate conduct that causes a person to experience substantial emotional distress is probably against the law. Making credible threats is also off limits. 

Punishing offenders

Depending on the seriousness of the behavior and other factors, prosecutors may file either misdemeanor or felony charges for cyberbullying. 

If a judge or jury convicts your son or daughter of misdemeanor cyberbullying, he or she may face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. For a felony conviction, your child may spend as many as five years behind bars. He or she may also have to pay a $5,000 fine. 

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