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As social interactions over the internet continue to grow, many people are falling prey to cyber bullying. Bullying is any aggression that is intentional and ends up affecting the victim either psychologically or physically. The bullying behavior occurs repeatedly whereby the victim is always weaker. Social cruelty has taken a new face as internet bullying replaces the old bullying habits that could happen in the classroom, hallway, or locker room.
Nowadays, bullying has become virtual with many people undergoing abuse in the form of slander, destructive messages, humiliation, and gossip that happens through instant messaging, emails, blogs, cell phones, and chat rooms (Williams and Guerra 1-2). This paper looks at what punishment is ideal for this kind of abuse and how the society prosecutes people if this form of abuse results into suicide.
Punishment for Cyber Bullying and Online Humiliation
The victims of cyber bullying and online humiliation often suffer from depression, ideation, suicidal attempts, and PTSD. Many young people have committed suicide as a result of online humiliation by people known to them and even strangers.
This brings up the big question on what punishment should be meted on the perpetrators of cyber bullying. The New Jersey Senator, Barbara Buono endorsed the privacy law that prohibits people from intruding into other people’s privacy. Cyber bullies are thus liable to prosecution under invasion of privacy and bias intimidation whose term depends on the intensity of the offense.
Cameras have been hidden in people’s dressing rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms and the images later posted online to humiliate them. Still, the law does not seem to bring the desired effect and Senator Buono said, and I quote, “No law is perfect. No law can deter every and any instance of this kind of behavior. We’re going to try to do a better job.”
Unfortunately, more states are yet to set straightforward laws against cyber bullying though they are working on it. Invasion of privacy is currently a punishable crime that amounts to up to 10 years behind bars (Schwartz 13-15).
Society’s Stand on Cyber Bullying Which Results in Suicide
Cyber bullying cases leading to suicide have been reported in overwhelming numbers in many states. The society has been outraged at these occurrences and the prosecutors have been forced to respond though it is important that punishment befit the crime. The society has wanted bullies who lead to their victims committing suicide to be tried for manslaughter though this requires a jury’s verdict.
There is a great need for the society thus to educate people on the ills of internet misuse as the states formulate laws that will prosecute the wrongdoers. Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University counters this by saying that, “finding the toughest possible charges isn’t the way the law is supposed to work” (Schwartz 17).
Cyber bullying is with no doubt a serious crime that has led to the death of many young people through suicide. All states need to come up with laws prohibiting such cruelty to warn the perpetrators in advance of what befalls them if they engage in this type of crime. On the other hand, the society has a great role of educating its people on the ills of cyber bullying from an early age.
Preventive interventions also need to be put in place to avert internet bullying. The anonymity that often comes with internet use has also contributed greatly to cyber bullying and service providers need to come up with more pronounced privacy settings.
Schwartz, J. “What punishment fits crime of bullying that leads to suicide?” New York Times. New York Times, 3 October 2010. Web. 17 Jan 2011.
Williams, K., and Guerra, N. “Prevalence and predictions of internet bullying.” Journal of Adolescent Health 41(2007): 1-2. Print.