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'Kiddie Crime?' The Utility of Criminal Law in Controlling Cyberbullying

56 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2010  

Megan Rehberg

University of Dayton

Susan W. Brenner

University of Dayton - School of Law

Date Written: January 17, 2010

Abstract

Cyberbullying – the use of email, websites, Instant Messages, Twitter, Facebook and other online resources to torment, harass and/or embarrass other children – has become an increasingly common phenomenon in American schools. The emotional injuries – and the occasional suicides – attributed to cyberbullying have led some to call for making cyberbullying a crime in and of itself.

This article analyzes the arguments for and against creating a new, “cyberbullying” offense. It argues that existing criminal law can adequately address cyberbullying when the “harm” it inflicts rises to the level that warrants the use of criminal sanctions; it also argues that the residual instances of cyberbullying which do not qualify for the use of criminal liability are better addressed by other, non-criminal means.

Keywords: criminal law, bullying, cyberbullying, stalking, harassment, emotional distress

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Rehberg, Megan and Brenner, Susan W., 'Kiddie Crime?' The Utility of Criminal Law in Controlling Cyberbullying (January 17, 2010). First Amendment Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1537873 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1537873

Megan Rehberg

University of Dayton ( email )

300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469
United States
937-229-2919 (Phone)

Susan W. Brenner (Contact Author)

University of Dayton - School of Law ( email )

300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469
United States
937-229-2929 (Phone)
937-229-2469 (Fax)

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