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Cyberbullying: Legal or illegal?

Cyberbullying is serious! It causes a lot of harm for the young victims and it’s also risky for the young bullies. It is always unacceptable and some actions are even punishable by law.

Consequences for the victims

Since cyberbullying happens on the Internet 💻, the young people who are victims can’t get away from it.

  • It follows them everywhere: school, home, and when they’re relaxing.
  • The bullying actions can be seen by lots of people.
  • The young bullies may be more aggressive 😤, because they can’t see the effects of their actions. They don’t know how much they’re hurting their victims.

For young victims of cyberbullying, the consequences can be very serious.

  • They may lose their friends and their reputation and feel isolated.
  • They may feel bad at school and get lower grades.
  • They may lose their self-esteem, become anxious, feel vulnerable, and even have suicidal thoughts.

Consequences for the bullies

A kid who cyberbullies someone also faces serious consequences:

  • He/she risks facing very real reactions in real life. The victim may decide to react, face the bully in person, get revenge, or report the bully to the school or the police.
  • His/her ISP may decide to cut off his/her access for violating the company’s service conditions.

Some cyberbullying acts are illegal, and a young person who is found guilty may be severely punished by law: 📜:

  • He/she may be arrested by the police 👮‍♀️ and have to go to court.
  • He/she may have to do community service or even, in serious cases, spend time in a young offender institution.
  • He/she may have to pay money to the victim of the cyberbullying. The police will open a file in his/her name, and his/her actions may leave traces for a long time.

Here are some examples of illegal actions, taken from the Éducaloi site

  • Camille sends dozens of hurtful messages to Pablo

    It’s illegal to harass someone by sending him/her messages that make him/her afraid for his/her safety. Camille could be questioned by the police and even charged with criminal harassment.

  • Felix makes fun of Olivia on Facebook

    It’s illegal to damage someone’s reputation by posting something that would cause people to hate or despise them or find them ridiculous. It’s also prohibited to write serious insults about someone.

  • Zoe threatens Aisha by text: she says she’ll punch her when they leave school

    Threats to kill or injure someone are prohibited. It’s also illegal to threaten to destroy a person’s property. Zoe could be accused of threats or bullying. And it doesn’t matter whether or not she plans to act upon her threats! The only thing that matters is that Aisha takes them seriously.

  • William shares intimate photos of his ex on Twitter without her consent

    It’s illegal to post or share intimate images of someone without their consent. What is an intimate image? It’s an image that shows certain body parts, such as the breasts or the genitals. It’s also an image that shows sexual activity: for example, two people in bed together.

  • Justine writes to a kid in her school to tell him to kill himself

    It’s illegal to strongly suggest that someone commit suicide. The bully could be accused of encouraging someone to commit suicide, which is a crime.

Do you see yourself in one of these situations? Have you been a victim or a bully? Have you witnessed cyberbullying? If yes, remember that this situation is unacceptable and has to end. Ask for help from a counsellor at your school or an adult you trust, or contact us at Tel-jeunes!