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Disarming Cyber Bullies in Florida

In today’s society, social media presents itself as a coin with two sides: a good one and a bad one. Among the several harmful elements, there is cyberbullying. This menacing culture is slowly creeping up in today’s youth with reports of several teen suicides as a result of the constant online bullying. The state of Florida recognizes, cyberbullying as the crime of online stalking. No statute covers cyberbullying on its own. However, stalking laws cover cyberstalking.

Anyone that commits this crime by maliciously, willfully, and continuously harassing another person is guilty of a misdemeanor crime. When they pose a credible threat to the victim, it becomes a felony crime. In Florida, a credible threat is any verbal or non-verbal threat that instigates fear in the victim’s safety, or those of family members.

The law strictly prohibits cyberbullying in schools. It explicitly describes cyberbullying in schools as anything that may cause psychological or physical distress on the students. It may be intimidation, threats, violence, teasing, social exclusion or religious, racial, and sexual harassment, among others. The law provides an anti-bullying policy that each school is expected to conform to its model.

Anyone that gets convicted of misdemeanor cyberbullying may receive a prison sentence of not more than one year and a $1000 fine or both. Felony cyberbullying, on the other hand, may result in a fine, not more than $5000 or a jail sentence of not more than five years or both. The law protects any student that makes a report of bullying in good faith from any litigation due to the damage that results because of the report.

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