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Is Cyberbullying Considered a Violent Crime in Illinois?

 Posted on September 17, 2019 in Criminal Law

Plainfield, IL violent crimes defense attorney

Social media has many benefits, but certain online sites also make it easier for teens and adults to “cyberbully” one another. Cyberbullying is defined as an act of demeaning, humiliating, or even threatening the safety of someone else through electronic means such as email, social media, and text messages. This type of behavior can be classified as harassment, which can have negative consequences. Harassment can leave deep scars on the mental health of a person, and this is especially true for young people. The victims of cyberbullying often engage in self-harming, and in some cases, they have gone on to commit school shootings. With this in mind, cyberbullying could be considered a violent crime in Illinois.

Does Illinois Have a Cyberbullying Law?

According to a recent study from Rasmussen College, 58 percent of teenagers admitted to being bullied online. 75 percent of kids admitted to having visited websites that focus on hateful comments about another minor, and 70 percent witnessed bullying via social media. It took some time, but cyberbullying is now enforced in Illinois, and legal punishments may be appropriate in order to put an end to online bullying. Illinois has an Anti-Bullying Law, which covers both face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying. It also covers acts of bullying that do not happen on a school campus. This way, a student can feel comfortable letting teachers or administrative staff know that he or she is being bullied online so action can be taken against the perpetrators.

Behaviors that are considered criminal include the following:

  • Harassing someone based on gender, race, or another protected status or distinguishing characteristic

  • Making violent and/or death threats

  • Making obscene phone calls or sending harassing text messages

  • "Sextortion" or child pornography

  • Stalking

  • Taking photos of someone to invade their privacy

What Are the Punishments for Cyberbullying?

While posting a demeaning comment online may seem like an innocuous activity, certain types of posts or actions could result in criminal consequences, including charges related to harassment or stalking. However, for teenagers, the social and academic punishments can seem just as severe as any legal action that can take place after cyberbullying someone.

In the state of Illinois, students who cyberbully can face any of the following penalties:

  • Suspension from school for up to 10 days

  • Expulsion from school for a period that does not exceed two years

On top of that, any legal action that takes place will result in a negative mark on the bully’s record. In the long run, one "inappropriate" comment that is made online can hinder a person’s ability to get into a desirable college or get a decent job.

Contact a Joliet, IL Cyberbullying Defense Attorney

Although many may not consider cyberbullying a violent crime, it can lead to violent outcomes. It is best to not engage in hateful behavior on the Internet, since this will not only avoid causing serious harm to another person, but it will also make sure you do not face legal consequences. If you or someone you know has been accused of cyberbullying, hire a lawyer from Tedone & Morton, P.C. to help build a strong defense strategy on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with a Will County criminal defense lawyer, call our office today at 815-666-1285.




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