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Speak Out: Is Cyberbullying Criminal?

Two Cobb County juveniles are being investigated for identity theft, reported 11Alive News.

Fourteen-year-old student Alex Boston made national headlines last week after she and her parents filed a civil libel suit against classmates they say bullied her through the use of a fake Facebook page.

Now, two Cobb County juveniles accused of creating the page to impersonate the Acworth girl and post racial and sexual material, are being investigated by the Cobb Sheriff's Office for identity theft, reported 11Alive News.

According to the Huffington Post, the page suggested Boston smoked marijuana and spoke a language called "Retardish." A racist video and sexual and obscene comments were also left on friends' pages using the fake account.

Boston's attorney, Natalie Woodward, told the Daily Report that the family filed the defamation suit against the two juveniles and their parents after the Kennesaw school said nothing could be done since they couldn't prove the incident happened on school property. Cobb police initially said they couldn't take action because no crime was committed.

But Woodward told 11Alive Tuesday that one of their investigators has since contacted her. A spokesperson for the Cobb Sheriff's Office wouldn't discuss the case, writing in an email to 11Alive that "it is an ongoing investigation and involves juveniles."

Is cyberbullying a crime? Should bullying policies in Georgia cover off-campus incidents? Tell us in the comments.

In a similar 2010 incident, three 14-year-old boys from Newburyport, MA were charged with identity theft after they allegedly harassed a boy by creating a fake Facebook page with his name and picture and posted disparaging remarks about other students.

Rep. Carolyn Hugley, D-Columbus, told the Daily Report that Georgia House Bill 310, known as the "cyberbullying" bill, ran out of time last session but will be brought back next year. The bill expands the term "bullying" to include incidents that may happen off school property via texts, e-mails and websites. 

In August 2008, California gave schools the authority to discipline students for online bullying through one of the country's first cyberbullying laws. With the global nature of the Internet, cyberbullying legislation isn't limited to the United States. In the Philippines, the province of Bulucan recently enacted an ordinance that prohibits school bullying via social networking sites and mobile phones. Those who violate the ordinance could be fined P5,000 and imprisoned for six months.

An Ipsos for Reuters News poll conducted in 24 countries and published this year found that one in 10 parents said their child had experienced cyberbullying and that one in four knew a child in their community who had been cyberbullied. Sixty percent said the harrassing behaviour occurred on social networking sites like Facebook.

A 2011 U.S. Consumer Reports survey found that one million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook over the previous year.

Heather Harrison May 02, 2012 at 05:44 PM
There used to be a time when you could get away from bullying. But it's not that way anymore. For kids that are being bullied, it now follows them home and everywhere because so much of the bullying happens online. Lots of kids turn to drastic measures to either protect themselves or hurt themselves. It is so tragic. A 13 year old from my hometown just committed suicide this weekend as a result of bullying. I talk about online bullying and suicide here: http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/05/02/online-bullying-and-teenage-suicide/
Gary Sev May 03, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Bullying is not a joke. In this day and age, cyberbullying is more prevalent than many people think. It hurts people, real people. And the sad part is that neither schools, nor students or officials are trained or equipped to capture, report and stop cyber bullying. There are many resources, like www.stopcyberbullying.com that would help with information, or www.canprove.com that can help to capture and report cyber bullying evidence.
J B May 03, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Harrassment is harrassment and there is a law against it in the workplace...now schools should adhere to the same law! Kids are just kids some say but the bullies should be held accountable.
I love Georgia May 03, 2012 at 06:04 PM
In the example cited in this story, isn't it at the very least slander? It's definitely harrassment and I think there are laws against that. Again in this story you could verify the IP addresses used to post the false FB page and track back to the perpretators. There should certainly be some legal recourse for the victim.
Belinda Qather Al Qaysi May 08, 2012 at 02:41 PM
How can they get away from it when celebrities who have a teenage cult following like Chip Coffey on face book not only cyber bully but instigate his fans to continue when where he leaves off ? How does a celebrity like Chip Coffey who has a international television show about helping troubled teens get away with being Facebooks no 1 cyber bully and promoter of cyber bullying? how many teen agers follow his fan club page and see Chip Coffey and his hate crew attack people on his facebook fan club page who disagree with him and incite his fans to continue his attacks (after he deletes his initial attack of course ) it is like watching a teacup poodle on one side and 1200 adult pitbulls on the other in a pitbull gang fight, this is the example he sets for teenagers to follow check this out , one of the worst is the picture of the enema bottle posted by Chip Coffey with the caption under it "some woman was snarking at me on twitter the other morning so I suggested she would benefit from one of these" Shouldnt celebrities who work on international television with troubled kids, and claim to have a mass of teenage followers be held to a higher standard than being the worst cyber bully on facebook ! https://getsatisfaction.com/tmz/topics/chip_coffeys_sink_o_de_mayo_joke_while_sporting_noh8_face_paint https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/We-Love-Beatrice-Marot/309917589048509 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chip-Coffey-Psychic-and-Medium/90338070683

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