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Specific laws exist for cyberbullying

Bullying today looks, in some ways, much different than it did decades ago. With the rise of the Internet and social media, lawmakers have paid special attention to cyberbullying. This form of bullying can be defined as harassment, and is illegal in Pennsylvania.

There are many reasons why cyberbullying has been outlawed, but one of the main ones is simply the incredible reach that the Internet gives these actions, allowing them to take on a life of their own and become far more detrimental than they were in the past.

The problem is that bullying can now be exposed to a person's entire friend group, rather than remaining as an isolated incident. For instance, some cases will involve unflattering or even explicit pictures. In the past, these may have been shown to a few people and used as a bullying tactic, but might not have spread very far. Today, those same pictures can be disseminated to hundreds or even thousands of people in just a few seconds, via texts, social media and other electronic technologies.

This can heighten a person's embarrassment over the issue, as pictures posted online are very hard to eradicate entirely. Cyberbullying can be permanently damaging, especially to young people. Some have felt so devastated by the spread of this information that they have taken their own lives.

Of course, as with many crimes linked to new technology, criminal cyberbullying cases can be very complex. Remember that all people who are accused of online crimes have the right to be presumed innocent. If you're facing charges, make sure you know all of your legal options.

Source: FIndLaw, "Cyberbullying," accessed Nov. 22, 2016

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