Currently, in California, the term “cyber-bullying” does not exist as a law. Definitions of cyber-bullying vary depending on the source and can differ from state to state. Even though California has passed several new Assembly Bills in the last three years, these bills merely extend the definition of bullying to cover electronic acts. California Assembly Bill 1156 (2011) amended the definition of bullying by specifying that “bullying means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act.” Cyber-bullying is simply a term used to identify bullying that is taking place with non-traditional, electronic means. Because there is no law that deals directly with cyber-bullying, law officials are forced to adapt our current laws, which are often times outdated and unable to keep up with technology.
When our legal system is forced to use laws that were never intended to combat cyber-bullying, often times we find severe inconsistencies on how those laws are enforced. Without clearly defined guidelines, interpretation of the laws and how they should be applied to a specific incident is left to judicial discretion. Though this is typically the case with the application of other laws, a consideration should be given to the disconnect between today’s generation and the generation of the law and decision makers.
Today’s technology has advanced at such a rapid pace that it has, in a sense, created a new type of human behavior. This behavior has conditioned today’s children to have technology integrated into every facet of their lives thereby make them dependent upon technology. This assimilation of technology has such a profound impact on a child’s life that some are incapable of functioning without it. Is it possible that present adults are so far disconnected with the younger generation that they do not realize how important technology is to them and the harm cyber-bullying is causing?
The Training Needs Assessment conducted for this course demonstrated that the majority of law enforcement professionals feel cyber-bullying crimes are under-investigated. In addition, it shows how truly underestimated cyber-bullying is amongst the law enforcement community. Though the majority of officers in this assessment had never completed a cyber-bullying investigation, the research showed that most of these individuals possess the basic computer skills necessary to utilize the Internet as an investigative tool and to conduct technical investigations such as cyber-bullying. However, those same officers felt that they lacked the training and or ability to conduct such investigations.
The largest concern amongst law enforcement was the lack of training they had received in the preservation and recovery of evidence.
Law enforcement must become the information center of cyber-bullying. Because there is no easily deciphered route through our legal system to seek a stop to the bullying, officers must be knowledgeable enough to provide advice and guidance to frustrated parents.
Because of the Supreme Court’s denial to review cases related to cyber-bullying, First Amendment rights are unclear when it comes to social media related acts. How are school officials and law enforcement agencies expected to enforce policies and laws when they are unsure what actions they are permitted to take? As with any new social issue, education and information is the key. Brining awareness to what cyber-bullying is, how it is carried out and the effects it can have are our children can be our greatest assets.
At the completion of this course, students will be better prepared to combat cyber-bullying incidents in their community. They will be empowered with the needed information to confidently address issues brought to them by teachers, parents and their children. They will have the skills necessary to bring awareness to cyber-bullying, educate their community and perform investigations. The profound life-long impact that cyber-bullying can have on a child’s life dictates that law enforcement must make every reasonable attempt to educate our own and be better prepared to handle these types of investigations.
This twenty-four hour course will provide police officers and detectives with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct comprehensive cyber-bullying investigations, utilize the Internet as an investigative tool and to correctly identify, preserve and retrieve electronic evidence. In addition, this course will help students increase employee efficiency, officer safety, and agency community relations as it pertains to the Internet.
Throughout this course, students will be taught how to conduct Internet based searches, how to conduct investigations on IP Addresses and Email headers as well as investigations involving mobile devices. Students will also learn about the scope of cyber-bullying, methods of commission, applicable laws, effects of bullying, parental prevention and mitigation techniques and how to conduct a cyber-bullying investigation.
Students will develop the ability to more efficiently conduct investigations by utilizing the Internet. Working on reality-based scenarios, students will augment traditional investigative techniques with the power of the Internet to maximize investigator efficiency, thoroughness, and officer safety.
Finally, students will complete their investigations by properly collecting electronic evidence to secure successful prosecutions.