Bullying 

Bullying is the act of intimidating another person to make them do something. It happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Bullying is a common experience for many children and teens. Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years.

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Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. 

Bullying can occur during or after school hours. It can also happen traveling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the internet.

There are a lot of reasons why some people bully. They may see it as a way of being popular, or making themselves look tough and in charge. Some bullies do it to get attention, or to make other people afraid of them. Others might be jealous of the person they are bullying. They may be a victim of bullies themselves. Some bullies may not even understand how wrong their behavioris and how it makes the person being bullied feel. Most bullies do not consider the consequences that could come with getting caught. They think bullying is anonymous, funny and no big deal.

Cyberbullying is the intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. While more than 4 in 10 teens experience some form of cyberbullying, only 1 in 10 told their parents.

Mississippi does have laws in place that can help prevent cyberbullying:

  • Mississippi Code § 97-29-45, against obscene electronic communications, states that it is unlawful for a person to make any request or suggestion which is obscene through electronic communication; or make a call without disclosing his identity or to make repeated phone calls with the intent to annoy or harass.
  • Mississippi Code § 97-45-15, against cyberstalking, states that: it is unlawful for a person to electronically communicate: threats to exort money or inflict harm to body or property; for the purpose of threatening, terrifying or harassing; or to knowingly make any false statement with intent to threaten, terrify or harass. A conviction can lead up to a maximum fine of $5,000 and two years in prison.
  • Mississippi Code § 97-45-33, against online impersonation, states that any person who knowingly and without consent impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet website or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding another person is guilty of a misdemeanor. An impersonation is credible if another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the perpetrator was or is the person who was impersonated. “Electronic means” includes opening an email account or profile on a social networking Internet website in another person’s name. A conviction is punishable by a fine of not less than $250 and not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment for not less than 10 days and not more than 1 year, or both.
  • Mississippi Code § 97-45-17, against posting of messages through electronic media for the purpose of causing injury to any person through the use of any medium of communication, including the Internet or a computer, computer program, computer system or computer network, or other electronic medium of communication without the victim’s consent, for the purpose of causing injury to any person. Violation of this statute, upon conviction, can result in punishment of imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.

If there has been a crime or someone is at immediate risk of harm, call 911. 

Get police help or medical attention immediately if:

  • A weapon is involved.
  • There are threats of serious physical injury.
  • There are threats of hate-motivated violence, such as racism or homophobia.
  • There is serious bodily harm.
  • There is sexual abuse.
  • Anyone is accused of an illegal act, such as robbery or extortion—using force to get money, property, or services.
  • If you know someone is being bullied in school contact the:

    • Teacher
    • School counselor
    • School principal
    • School superintendent
    • State Department of Education 

    If the school is not adequately addressing the issue based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion contact:

    • School superintendent
    • State Department of Education
    • U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
    • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

    Mississippi Department of Education Stay Safe Hotline -  (866) 960-6472  https://www.mdek12.org/SBR

    Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use - www.cyberbully.org 

    Cyberbullying Research Center - www.cyberbullying.us 

    Fear Stops Here - www.fearstopshere.com

    STOP Cyberbullying - www.stopcyberbullying.com 

    United States Department of Health and Human Services - stopbullying.gov

    U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights - http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/

    Wired Safety - www.wiredsafety.org 

    Disclaimer: The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is not responsible for the content of listed websites, which may have changed since review.

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