Are Parents Responsible for Their Cyberbullying Kids?
Parents are suing six teenagers and their parents over cyberbullying their 16-year-old daughter. Texas parents Reymundo Esquivel and Shellie Tingle-Esquivel are enraged that their daughter's classmates allegedly created an Instagram page showing topless and bottomless teens and included their daughter on the page. It's unclear if they were real photos or fake, but the suit alleges that seven classmates "participated in making several malicious, untrue, suggestive, derogatory, inflammatory, and sexually explicit statements regarding the teen."
The Instagram page, which has since been taken down, allegedly showed many topless girl teens and bottomless boy ones and the page was named after the high school they all went to, Klein, combined with a very derogatory term. Apparently the bullying had been going on for a year.
The parents are suing the classmates for libel and their parents for negligence. The bullied teen's father told Click 2 Houston:
It's not just something you see on the news. It could be happening to your child, and your child may not be telling you about it.
Oddly, the parents also told the outlet that their daughter's photo "wasn't necessarily suggestive" but that other photos on the site could be viewed as child porn.
Whatever exactly went on here, it's definitely time that teens realized that slapping whatever they want up on the Internet about other kids is something that should be punished. When I was a teen, we didn't do this kind of stuff -- the Internet wasn't as big as it is now, thank god -- but that time I spray painted the local pool's changing room? Yeah, I spent the whole summer painting it over. I got punished.
Nowadays, whatever goes up about someone on the Internet is likely to remain there forever -- possibly disrupting job searches and relationships long past when the teens committed their little jokes, shenanigans, and bullying.
As for suing the parents -- well, that's a gray area. Certainly there are parents who turn a blind eye to whatever their precious cargo are doing, even if it's nasty s**t. But then there are those who simply have zero clue what's going on. It's difficult if not impossible to monitor your kids' Internet usage 24/7. Especially when kids are being given computers in grammar school for homework.
A lot of parents wouldn't even have a clue what Instagram is (I barely do!). And god knows you can lecture teens until the cows come home about proper online behavior and get nowhere with them. Forcing parents to cough up legal fees or a payout who may simply have had absolutely no idea what was happening is bit much. So I hope the Texas parents have some proof these classmates' parents were truly being "negligent."
Are parents responsible for their kids' cyberbullying? Should the parents be sued too?