Bullying and Cyberbullying Laws – Clarifications on our Fact Sheet


Our state-by-state bullying and cyberbullying laws fact sheet is one of the top-most documents downloaded from our site; we encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. That said, it is also a fluid resource that we are constantly updating. Some recent questions have been posed, and so I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify some of its content. If you have further questions, please keep sending them in, as we want this resource to be extremely helpful to those on the front lines of this issue.


Question: “A significantly larger number of states passed bullying laws that include electronic harassment but not cyberbullying. Could you clarify why electronic harassment is not included under “cyberbullying”? What are the technical differences between the two?”


Answer: There is very little, if any, difference between “electronic harassment” and “cyberbullying.” We can only think of a few exceptions to this (for example one instance of harassment online might not be considered cyberbullying because we usually conceptualize ‘bullying’ as repetitive behavior). All we were trying to capture was whether or not the laws included the word ‘cyberbullying’ in them. As you can see, most did not. Either way, electronic harassment and cyberbullying are essentially synonymous when it comes to the content and intent of these laws.


Question: “Do those states that specify criminal sanctions criminalize only face-to-face bullying or cyberbullying as well?”


Answer: Under the criminal sanction portion of our chart, we only noted ‘YES’ for those states that have a criminal sanction for certain types of *electronic* harassment (or cyberbullying). We did not include states that just have criminal sanctions for face-to-face bullying or harassment, which most states do have (but are typically classified under “assault” and “stalking” statutes).


Question: “In regard to the criminal law system’s authority over the issue of cyberbullying, in your professional opinion, should more laws be passed criminalizing cyberbullying? Beyond the principle of the law, are they effective in practice?”


Answer: Please see this recent blog post on cyberbullying laws which summarizes our position on this question. We have also posted other blogs that might be of interest to your work – feel free to search for ‘law’ in the blog search engine, or simply browse some of our recent posts.


  1. Thank-you for the detailed information that you've provided, on this important topic. You and your readers may also be interested to learn about a study on cyberbullying conducted by the University of Toronto.

    The details are blogged about here: onlinesocialsavvy.com/?p=40

    Please keep up the good work and I look forward to the release of your book this year!!

    Kelly EHB

  2. I see a GREAT need for continued and increased effort in passing new and expanding existing electronic harrassment and cyberbulling laws. Our legislation regarding these two issues has not kept up with our technology. One such area that is sorely in need of better protection for our children is the arena of the Sports Forum discussion. Currently, there are sports forums in our state that allow anonymous people to register, log-in and post under psuedo names. These sites have rules that state that "flaming, personal attacks, etc." will not be allowed, however due to the "good ole' boy" systems that are in place, many personal attacks do indeed take place against children who are involved in sports activities. These people (sometimes other children but more often than not, disgruntled and jealous adults) make personal and disparaging remarks that damage the self-esteem and hurt the young person. Remarks such as "why would any college waste a scholarship on you" and even go so far as to include disparaging remarks about a child's family and or finanacial situation. Appeals to the administrators of such sites usually involve a slap on the wrist and a closed post at best. Still the poster goes on other threads and continues unabated. This MUST stop. I would be very interested in working with a coalition to propose, introduce and help push for passage of stronger laws for these type sites and others. This cyberbulling and electronic harrassment, which is so prevelant because the perpertrator thinks they are insulated due to being anonymous MUST STOP NOW. Our children are hurting. Anyone else agree? Thank you for listening. -Gen Coleman, Kentucky.

  3. People need to get out to these places that kids in school are not the only ones being cyberbulling. Adults can get cyberbullied to, its not just kids. Although it is more kids they should still think about others.

  4. In the case of Davis v Monroe the courts reminded school officials that they can be held liable under common laws which states that schools maybe held responsible if they fail to protect students from the tortuous acts of third parties. If that is the case then the schools should be held responsible, but few of the cases are actual discovered. In cases of traditional bullying or cyber bullying, kids usually don’t want to draw negative attention to themselves by telling an adult about what’s going on with them. a glance in the hallway can be as much a part of bullying as being verbal with it; it is very hard to gauge or actual notice the bullying at times. Kids still thinks it’s not cool to snitching/telling on each other, although we might think of it them protecting themselves they view it as snitching.

  5. According to an article I read about cracking down on cyberbullying, “Michigan State Police are training Lansing Police Officers” on how to handle cyberbullying. Law enforcements believe that since bullying has gone cyber, that parents must come in to help stop cyberbullying by asking questions; “Who are you talking to? Why are you on the phone texting at 12:30 at night…?” Representative Mark Meadows is trying to pass an anti-bullying bill that would require schools to adopt a bullying policy. Will any of these measures, parenting, policies, and police enforcement really help prevent and stop cyberbullying or as I believe, will kids just find a way around it? How are the police really going to stop and prevent cyberbullying? They can’t monitor you 24/7 or can they? And parents work, some are single mothers and fathers, how are they really going to have the time to monitor their kids?

  6. I am and have had electronic harrassment done to me since 1998. Over the years the idiots made sure I knew who exactly it is, of coure there many reasons why in there minds, they move very often and I know at the moment where they are. Im posative trully posative about this information,I have been put threw hell and plan to stop them before they get a chance to move and continue. They have hurt my family,friends,and his, my X,s own son. Please, contact me asap I need some advise. Thankyou julie hagberg

  7. You people have created and facilitated American youngsters in the behavior of being afraid to stand up to the want to be bad ass . You have not gone as far as to teach them to dig a hole in ground and crawl in to hide but that will be you next move.

  8. I’m being electronically harassed and cyber-bullied by someone who lives in a different state. Is there anything I can do to make this stop? Are there legal avenues to pursue, and if so do I go to the police in California where I live, or in Alabama where the bully lives?

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