Social media and technology have changed the very nature of bullying. As a result, parents and victims also have changed how they respond, increasingly taking their cases directly to law enforcement rather than notifying school officials first. In fact, a 2013 Thomson Reuters survey of American parents indicated more than one third of parents would turn to law enforcement first if their child were the victim of cyberbullying.

But how should law enforcement respond?

Fighting Cyberbullying in Schools: What Law Enforcement, Schools and Parents Can Do, a new white paper from the Fraud Prevention & Investigation business of Thomson Reuters, offers views from law enforcement professionals, a judge and a county attorney on the impact of cyberbullying and how it can be confronted.

In conjunction with the white paper, commissioned a recent survey that shows nearly one in 12 parents report that their child has been a victim of cyberbullying.

Many states have enacted cyberbullying laws that specifically protect minors from online bullying or harassment. In addition, other state laws involving “cyberharassment” and bullying may come into play. There is currently no federal law specifically addressing bullying in any form, but other federal laws, such as civil rights and nondiscrimination laws, may require schools to intervene with certain types of bullying.

“By some reports, bullying – and especially cyberbullying – has reached epidemic proportions among schoolchildren,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney-editor at “While our survey indicates that about one in twelve parents report their child being victimized by cyberbullying, the survey likely understates the true incidence of cyberbullying. Many parents may not be aware that their children are receiving threatening or harassing messages, or that reputation-damaging posts about their children are being made on social media sites. Many children may be unwilling or reluctant to share that information with their parents. However, laws on bullying and cyberbullying may offer protections that authorize schools and other authorities, including law enforcement, to take appropriate action to stop the cyberbullying when it occurs.”

For more information on the survey, visit

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