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Sued for cyberbullying

I wonder if this might actually be MORE effective, if (and it's a big if) the action can be taken quickly enough to actually stop the behavior.  A lot of parents will happily watch a child be arrested while they insist they're being railroaded, but when it costs the parents their OWN money, perhaps they'll actually have an incentive to discipline their precious little snowflakes?

 

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/04/teen-sues-over-bullying/

A teenager in Georgia has decided to take things into her own hands after her school and police said they could do nothing about the classmates bullying her on Facebook.

Fourteen-year-old Alex Boston and her parents are filing suit against two classmates and their parents for libel after the two classmates allegedly created a fake Facebook account in her name, using a photo of her that they distorted. The account was also used to post a racist video to YouTube that implied that Boston hated African-Americans, and to leave crude comments on the Facebook pages of other friends, suggesting she was sexually active and smoked marijuana.

“All of these things were not true and they knew them to be not true,” says Boston’s attorney Natalie Woodward.

The activities exposed Boston to “hatred, contempt and ridicule by her classmates and peers,” according to the complaint, which accuses the teens of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks punitive damages. The parents of the defendants are named in the suit because they paid for the internet access that allowed their children to create the account and post the messages, and allegedly failed to supervise their activity.

Boston decided to take this novel route after learning of the Facebook page a year ago and complaining about the behavior to school officials at Palmer Middle School in Kennesaw, Georgia. They told her there was nothing they could do about it because the activity occurred off campus.

Police also said their hands were tied as well because there was no Georgia cyberbullying law they could apply to the situation.

In Georgia, schools can punish students if they bully others at school, but the law governing this does not extend to text messages and social media sites. Georgia does not have a law that covers off-campus harassment, though seven other states do have laws that cover this.

Police in Georgia advised Boston and her parents to file a complaint with Facebook, requesting that the fake account be taken down.

But after several requests to Facebook failed, Boston and her family decided to sue the teens allegedly responsible for the account. Facebook only deleted the account about a week ago after the lawsuit was filed and a story about it aired over the weekend on CNN, Woodward said.

Woodward said there had been no dispute between the teens prior to the bullying.

“She just considers herself a normal, average seventh-grader,” Woodward said. “She had never been targeted or had something like this happen before.”

The alleged teen offenders told school officials that they just didn’t like Boston, according to Woodward. “They said ‘she followed us around school too much.’ There was no real explanation, as is so often the case with these activities. Why kids do things to other kids is a mystery, and is for sure in this case.”

Cyberbullying garnered worldwide attention in 2007 after an adult named Lori Drew was accused of creating a fake Myspace account with her teen daughter and another girl that was used to bully another teenage girl who later committed suicide. Prosecutors later charged Drew under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for violating Myspace’s terms of service in creating the fake account. Drew was later convicted by a jury on misdemeanor charges, but the conviction was overturned by a judge.

The case prompted new cyberbullying laws to be passed in states across the nation. In 2009, in the wake of the Drew case, a Missouri ninth-grader was arrested for creating a website that disparaged another teen.

Answer Question
 
NotPanicking

Asked by NotPanicking at 11:46 PM on Apr. 28, 2012 in Politics & Current Events

Level 51 (420,406 Credits)
Answers (16)
  • Well I am happy that the girl and her parents took another step forward however sometimes it's just better to let things go and not get involved with the court justice that can be very emotional and nerve racking!! Because it's a big process. I think all the parents needed to do is bring their daughter to their home and have an apology made! I don't think suing was really the right way to go! I would expect parents to discipline their children and ban them from facebook.
    Hesmynavyman

    Answer by Hesmynavyman at 6:31 PM on Apr. 29, 2012

  • @hesmynavyman...You know whats scares me the most about your comment? The fact others think the same thing, and thats whats wrong with America, if it doesn't affect me directly, who cares?
    ". I think all the parents needed to do is bring their daughter to their home and have an apology made! ..."
    Really? Do you really think that would have been ok? That everyone would suddenly just forget and forgive and move on? Perhaps invite over next weekend for a BBQ ans sing Kumbaya over a camp fire? Not a chance in hell. These girls made a point of faking a FB account, posting a racist video to YouTube that implied that she hated African-Americans? After that fiasco with the Martin case in FL, racial tensions are at all time high! She could have been jumped walking home one day by a black mob and may have been beaten to death or nearly to death like the guy in AL that was beaten with paint cans, sticks and such.>>
    Michigan-Mom74

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 10:44 PM on Apr. 29, 2012

  • "I don't think suing was really the right way to go! I would expect parents to discipline their children and ban them from facebook..."
    So what would you have done if this happened to one of your kids? I am sure the parents disciplined their kids, but banning them from FB? LOL!!! Ya right, keep dreaming. Do you know what your kids do at school? Doi you know for a fact what you child would do in a circumstance that put them into a situation that called for bullying? Do you think they would speak up? Walk off? Tell another teacher? Peer pressure today is so much worse then it was when I was a teen. Bullying is also getting more violent and mean. No kid wants to be seen as a snitch.
    Michigan-Mom74

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 10:51 PM on Apr. 29, 2012

  • take things into her own hands = danger
    GlitteribonMom

    Answer by GlitteribonMom at 2:27 PM on Apr. 30, 2012

  • Maybe it will make people sit up and take notice--I think alot of parents do not even know what their kids are doing....
    booklover545

    Answer by booklover545 at 3:48 PM on Apr. 30, 2012

  • Good for her and her parents. I don't believe that any child should put up with bullies.

    We are part of a society that punishes children for standing up for themselves while we let their tormentors go free.

    I think they should sue the heck out of the children and families responsible for causing this emotional distress.
    theMOMmission

    Answer by theMOMmission at 4:41 PM on Apr. 30, 2012

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