Late last month, a legislative proposal passed the Colorado House Education Committee unanimously. House Bill 1131 defines the scope of cyberbullying as a criminal offense and would make this kind of offense a misdemeanor in Colorado. Currently, anyone convicted of adult or juvenile charges related to cyberbullying is treated as if they have committed either misdemeanor harassment or felony stalking. If passed, House Bill 1131 would make the crime of cyberbullying straightforward and predictable for sentencing purposes.
Advocates insist that the bill will allow Colorado law enforcement officials to more widely and properly prosecute cyberbullying offenders. Opponents insist that the bill is redundant, given that cyberbullying is already frequently prosecuted as a form of criminal harassment. Regardless of whether the bill passes or not, the debate surrounding its possible implementation should inspire parents to talk to their kids and teens about cyberbullying.
Whether it is prosecuted as a form of harassment or explicitly as cyberbullying, bullying someone over the Internet is illegal behavior in Colorado. Kids and teens may not understand that this kind of behavior can result in a criminal record, as well as numerous other consequences. It is important for parents to prevent this kind of behavior when possible and to seek the advice of an experienced criminal law attorney if and when kids and teens engage in this kind of behavior.
Any time kids and teens inflict significant emotional distress upon their peers, it is important for parents and attorneys to work together to right the situation. Not only because victims of this kind of behavior deserve to have the situation made right but also because minors should be spared a lifetime of criminal consequences if they have only made temporary and reparable lapses in judgment.
Source: The Coloradoan, “Colorado cyberbullying law clears first legislative hurdle,” Feb. 24, 2014