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September 25, 2012

Protect Your Kids From Cyberbullies

Over half of teens have been bullied online or engaged in online bullying. One in three young adults has experienced cyber threats. Gone are the days where bullying was mainly confined to schoolyard taunts or fights. Digital media has introduced new ways for people to connect. From Facebook chat, to text messaging, emailing, MSN messenger, Twitter, or ICQ, these positive mediums can be used to cyberbully.

But only one out of ten youths usually report cyberbullying. And increasingly teenagers use these electronics to message and harass their peers. The Centre for Disease Control calls this “electronic aggression.” But beyond the harassment, the malicious messages can be emotionally and physically damaging for young people. It’s under-reported and can lead to self-mutilation or suicide.

So what happens to the families left to take care of their wounded children or themselves after a death? One avenue of recourse is to start a law suit against the cyberbully. In fact, the cyberbully may actually have insurance to pay for such a lawsuit under their home owner’s policy. If the harassment had been instigated by an adult, it may be considered intentional conduct and may not be covered by insurance. But a child bullying another child could be covered under parental negligence for failure to adequately supervise their children for safe behavior, which may very well be covered by the home owner’s policy. Some insurance companies will now write exclusions into policies concerning cyberbullying. But even if there is no insurance, it does not mean that legal avenues for redress are closed. Best to contact a lawyer if you or a loved one are a victim of cyberbullying causing harm and injuries.

It’s important to protect your children and teach them to recognize abusive behaviour. One mom in Nova Scotia is fighting for laws against cyberbullying after her daughter committed suicide due to abusive taunts. Encourage your kids to talk about their day and report any misbehavior to you or a teacher.

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Author - James Richards

James Richards is a born and raised Vancouverite who studied History, Political Science and Law at University of British Columbia. His over 20 years of legal practice and a busy and active family gives him his purpose, focus and some good writing material. When not in work–mode, he enjoys any excuse to be out and about our amazing city.