#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | New Michigan law makes cyberbullying a crime

The Detroit Free Press reported the law, known as enrolled House Bill No. 5017, was approved by former Gov. Rick Snyder in December.

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Under the law, cyberbullying includes posting a message or statement in a public forum — any medium designed to convey information to others — about another person if the following apply:

  • Message or statement is intended to place a person in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person
  • The message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat. 

If someone is found guilty of the misdemeanor, they could serve up to 93 days in jail, a maximum fine of $500 or both. Someone with a prior cyberbullying conviction could serve a maximum of one year in prison or a $1,000 fine or both. 
A person with a “continued pattern of harassing or intimidating behavior and by that violation causes serious injury to the victim” can, if found guilty of the felony, serve a five-year jail term or a $5,000 fine or both. A pattern that causes death would also be a felony. If found guilty, a person could serve a maximum of 10 years in prison or pay a maximum fine of $10,000 if not both.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website StopBullying.gov, some warning signs that a child is being cyberbullied include noticeable increases or decreases in device use, emotional responses to what is happening on a device, hiding screens or devices, avoiding discussion about what is happening on their device, and lost interest in people and activities. 

More information on cyberbullying is at StopBullying.gov.