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Being accused of cyberbullying can be very serious

There is nothing new about school bullies, as they have been around as long as there have been children going to school. What is new is the form that the bullying now frequently takes.

Technological advances over the last couple of decades have put computers in the hands of nearly every school-age child. From laptops to desktops to smartphones and other hand-held electronic devices, kids from grade school to college have a plethora of ways to connect with their peers on social media sites.

The problem is when those connections are made for nefarious purposes. If your child uses the internet to harm, bully, intimidate, harass or otherwise traumatize another kids, he or she can be accused of cyberbullying.

In many ways, cyberbullying is far more devastating to those being bullied than a fist to the face would ever be. While bruises and black eyes eventually heal, the psychic wounds and shame from a cyberbully attack can follow the victim for life. Some have even committed suicide after being cyberbullied by fellow students they thought were their friends.

Oregon does not impose criminal sanctions for cyberbullying. However, since 2012, when the state legislature passed SB 1555, there are provisions in place for school districts to deal with this problem when it arises.

The law also includes a provision for "the consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another of having committed an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying or an act of cyberbullying as a means of reprisal or retaliation, . . . harassment, intimidation or bullying or...cyberbullying."

This is important, because the consequences of such an accusation against a student can be quite serious. Parents of students facing such accusations may wish to consult with a criminal defense attorney to learn of the best course of action to take.

Source: Findlaw, "Cyberbullying," accessed Nov. 18, 2016

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