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What is cyberbullying?

North Dakota parents may be aware of a modern phenomenon called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is similar to traditional bullying, except that it occurs online or through other digital means. Examples of cyberbullying include sending threatening emails, spreading revealing or embarrassing information about an individual or using a website to rate people on their appearance. Ultimately, these actions attempt to intimidate or humiliate an individual.

Both men and women engage in both traditional bullying and online bullying. Some crime resources suggest that men tend to send physical threats or messages of a sexual nature while bullying. Women reportedly tend to bully by spreading rumors about other people or by revealing secrets. In most cases, the effects of young individuals who are bullied online are the same as in those who are bullied in a more traditional manner.

Common signs of children who are being bullied include a loss of self-esteem or a generally depressed mood. However, those who are bullied online may feel especially threatened or afraid due to the potentially anonymous nature of the bullying. As bullying is often done through a computer or cellphone, a child may no longer feel safe in his or her own home.

Penalties for online harassment may worsen if a suspected bully has posted sexually explicit photos of a minor. Common penalties for harassment may include jail time, probation or community service. Talking to a criminal defense attorney may make it possible to win an acquittal or reach a plea agreement in a harassment case. None of the information in this article should be construed as specific legal instruction.

Source: National Crime Prevention Council, "What is Cyberbullying?", October 30, 2014

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