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Education Law

University of Florida Levin College of Law

2012

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Full-Text Articles in Law

How Not To Criminalize Cyberbullying, Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Andrea Garcia Jul 2012

How Not To Criminalize Cyberbullying, Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Andrea Garcia

UF Law Faculty Publications

This essay provides a sustained constitutional critique of the growing body of laws criminalizing cyberbullying. These laws typically proceed by either modernizing existing harassment and stalking laws or crafting new criminal offenses. Both paths are beset with First Amendment perils, which this essay illustrates through 'case studies' of selected legislative efforts. Though sympathetic to the aims of these new laws, this essay contends that reflexive criminalization in response to tragic cyberbullying incidents has led law-makers to conflate cyberbullying as a social problem with cyberbullying as a criminal problem, creating pernicious consequences. The legislative zeal to eradicate cyberbullying potentially produces disproportionate ...