Should parents be held responsible for bullying and harassment perpetrated by their children?

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There’s hardly any case where a court has found parents negligent for failing to supervise their kids’ computer use. Not withstanding, on October 10, a Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade student may be negligent for failing to get their son to delete a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate. This case is of particular interest because, according to the appeals court opinion, the page stayed up for the next 11 months even after the parents were alerted of it, until Facebook deactivated the account at the urging of the girl’s parents.

This implies that in certain circumstances under Florida law, when what is being said about a child is untrue and the parents know about it, it may trigger liability. The liability here is not expressly criminal, but may invoke some underlying crime like stalking.

There’s ongoing controversy on the extent of parent’s moral and legal obligation regarding this sensitive issue. Some people have argued that it is impossible for parents to monitor their children’s cyber activities; others consider parents a third party that should not be held liable for an unintended action. Yet, some insist that since the Internet has become an integral part of most children’s lives today, parents should take this seriously and keep an eye on their children online activities.

Recently a group, Justice Outreach has revealed a proposed legislation entitled, “BULLYING, CYBERBULLYING AND HARASSMENT — PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY” that will hold the parents of victims of bullying and harassment liable if they are proven to be culpably negligent. According to the proposal, parents can be found negligent if they “allow” their children to engage in an activity that leads to injury or death.

Now you can be part of the conversation, “Do you think parents should be held responsible for bullying, cyberbullying and harassment perpetrated by their children?

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