If My Child is Cyber Bullied -- What Laws Govern Cyber Bullying in Connecticut
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fifty-two percent of young people report being cyber bullied. According to a 2011 report, 25% of teenagers in Connecticut have experienced repeated bullying on their cell phone or the Internet. 95% of teens who witness cyber bullying on social media ignore the behavior. More than half say they never confide in their parents when cyber bullying happens to them.

Becoming more common than ever, cyber bullying, which was once considered a "coined media catchphrase", has morphed into a well-documented serious problem punishable as a crime. Victims are not only internalizing their feelings and keeping quiet about the online harassment, some are even taking their own lives. Both Phoebe Prince and Tyler Clementi committed suicide after online torture went too far and became too much for them to handle.

If your child is being cyber bullied, it is important to know how Connecticut handles it and what laws govern this area. Connecticut laws governing cyber bullying include:

1. In July of 2011, the General Assembly Commission on Children released publication regarding an anti-bullying bill becoming a law. Completed under title Public Act 11-232, the new law added cyber bullying to the definition of bullying along with creating a plan for schools on how to respond to such incidents.

2. Connecticut General Statute Sections 53a-36-42 govern punishment for misdemeanor harassment. Under this statute, sentences can include up to three months in prison, a fine of $500, or both.

3. Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 10-222d entitled "Policy on bullying behavior" defines bullying and includes addressing bullying outside of the school setting if it has a direct and negative impact on the student's academic performance or safety in school.

4. Along with criminal penalties for cyber bullying, civil remedies such as actions for defamation and libel are alternative possibilities to consider. Defamation and libel are governed by Connecticut General Statute Sections 52-237 and 52-597 and the common law. Victims may pursue money damages as compensation for emotional distress and other harm.


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