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When does online misbehavior become cyberbullying?

The Internet age has come with many messy complications. Millions of people in Connecticut and across the country love the ease and convenience of social media tools. Indeed, those tools have revolutionized the way that people share their lives with others.

Teens, especially, have embraced the new technologies. Sometimes, however, there's a fine line between a clever online gag and behavior that results in criminal charges for harassment, cyberbullying or some other offense.

In a recent case in Massachusetts, a high school senior made public a pass code to a teacher-run school website. The student said he intended for his friends to engage in a prank involving the posting of funny photos.

Unfortunately, the posts included sexually demeaning remarks. The nasty comments hurt the teacher so much that the teacher sought out psychological counseling to deal with them.

The school responded by first suspending the student for 10 days for cyberbullying. He was then expelled from school. The student may appeal the expulsion. But he has already lost a college scholarship offer due to the episode.

A similar case occurred in Indiana earlier this year. School officials expelled a senior only a few months before high school graduation. The alleged offense was use profanity in a Tweet made from his personal Twitter account.

It isn't only school officials who are taking action, however. State legislatures are also creating or tightening criminal laws against cyberbullying involving students. One of those is New York, where there is a new law against digital harassment.

Source: ""Chris Latour, Massachusetts High School Student, Expelled For 'Cyberbullying' Senior Prank," Huffington Post, 12-4-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Connecticut criminal defense page.

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