Wisselman, Harounian & Associates has long advocated for ways to prevent, avoid, and correct bullying and cyberbullying behaviors. A few years ago in our newsletter, Attorney Jerome Wisselman wrote an article about how to safely respond to bullying, mostly in school situations. Our tradition has continued recently with a new article about avoiding cyberbullies, which was written by Attorney Jacqueline Harounian and published as a two-parter in the Great Neck Record.
Within the Great Neck Record article – which you can view in full by clicking here – Attorney Harounian talks about the underlying complications presented by cyberbullying. When a menace is hidden behind a distant computer and username, it can be difficult to know how to “get away.” Cyberbullies virtually stalk popular message boards, social media outlets, online games, and so forth that they know their chosen victim frequents, harassing them at all hours if possible.
The result is a younger generation that has never quite known what it means not to have a smartphone in hand around-the-clock, and the potential risks of serious mental health issues associated with persistent pressures and cyberbullying. Due to their continual involvement with the internet, it can be a challenge for these younger people and teens to distinguish between where the cyber world ends and where reality begins again. With constant connection to the world through their smartphone the consequences of cyberbullying negativity spreads into all facets of their life.
Cyberbullying Escalates to Potential Crimes & More Complications
Attorney Harounian also discusses the growing and unthinkable form of cyberbullying called “revenge porn.” In brief, “revenge porn” usually involves a former lover or partner publically posting sexually explicit content provided to them privately and with unspoken trust by their former significant other.
The fight to stop “revenge porn” is an uphill battle, as federal regulations do not exist to criminalize these postings without express consent. Some states, like New York, have tried to tighten up the laws by tying “revenge porn” into unlawful surveillance crimes, but there is so much gray area left. Even if posting “revenge porn” was made strictly illegal by a federal law, there will always be other avenues for criminals to exploit, like hidden or changing IP addresses, fake usernames, etc. Law enforcement agencies would have to decide what cases are worth pursuing and those that are not. Making that decision is complicated, as defendants could try to argue from a standpoint of unlawful discrimination and prosecution.
Avoidance is the Best Protection
With the legal protections against cyberbullying in its simplest and most malicious forms being minor at best, what can be done to prevent it? Jacqueline continued the first part of her two-part article with a brief list of tips to avoid cyberbullies outright. Some basics include never sharing private information online, never taking sexually explicit photographs or videos with an internet-connected device, and not being afraid to talk to the police and an attorney if the harassment is persistent and damaging.
Would you like to know more about Attorney Harounian, Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, and how we fight to stop cyberbullying? You can contact our law firm to request a consultation or case evaluation.