LeBre on Law: Daughter needs to unfriend bulliesPublished 10:13pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012
By Robert W. LaBre, J.D.
“Mr. LaBre, kids from my daughter’s school are making fun of her on Facebook!” she cried over the phone. “They continuously post on her wall all sorts of names, writing about the way she looks and what she wears. She’s only 12 years old! It’s bad enough that she has to deal with this stuff while in school, but now they’re attacking her out of school, too! Before all this bullying, my daughter was happy-go-lucky, but now she’s become so depressed from the things she reads other kids write about her that it’s like she’s a different girl. She cries in her room at night, and nothing I do or say consoles her. I think I may have to take her to counseling now — all because of these kids!”
“Let me look up her Facebook page,” I said. There they were — multiple wall posts calling her daughter names the likes of which would make a Marine drill instructor blush.
“That sure is bad,” I said after review. “But I didn’t see anything from your daughter writing back a request for them to stop posting on her wall. Nor does it appear that she’s ‘unfriended’ any of these kids. Why is that?”
“Because she’s afraid of the repercussions, and she wants to be popular! I’m telling you, these kids are relentless! It’s a crime what these kids do now days! Can I have these kids prosecuted for what they’re doing on her Facebook page?” she asked.
“I don’t think so. You see, Michigan law does provide recourse for victims of cyber bullying and harassment, but, in order for there to be a violation of the law, the contact must be unconsented. By allowing these kids to maintain their status as a ‘friend’ on her Facebook profile, your daughter is consenting to their ability to make remarks on her wall. If she would have at least told these kids to stop posting on her wall at some point, and the kids continued their remarks anyway, maybe the prosecutor would have something to work with, but even that’s not the case here.”
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