I remember that story Prof. Quimbo once shared in class – about a woman who was constantly harassed online that ultimately led to strangers coming up to her house because of an email allegedly sent by her that solicited for one-night stands and even invited men to rape her. Well, cyber harassment is increasingly becoming more dangerous as it takes on the forms of cyberstalking and cyberbullying. Just recently, a first year student at Rutgers University in New Jersey committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly filmed him having sex with a man and broadcast over the internet. His roommate even invited an audience to watch the video by posting it on Facebook and Twitter.
Bill Belsey which popularized the term “cyberbullying” defines it as “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others.” StopCyberbullying.org describes it as “a situation when a child, tween or teen is repeatedly tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child or teenager using text messaging, e-mail, instant messaging or any other type of digital technology.”
According to Ricardo Romulo, the elements of cyberbullying include “the use by the perpetrator of modern information and communication technology; for the purpose of harassing, humiliating, hurting, or embarrassing; and the victim who by reason of age, physical stature, or psychological make-up is particularly vulnerable to being damaged thereby.” Romulo also opines that while the elements of cyberbullying could be subsumed under our laws on maltreatment and unjust vexation under the Revised Penal Code, it should be treated as a separate crime because of the technology involved in its perpetration. Because the crime can be committed with different modes of information technology like text-messaging or the use of social networking sites, numerous challenges must be resolved, among of which include anonymity of the perpetrator, the fact of establishing a fixed venue of the crime, and of course differentiating harassment from a mere exercise of one’s freedom of expression.