Cyberbullying is a term that has taken the world by storm and has been reported through a variety of media outlets for the past few years. We have all heard the stories of people, mainly young ones in middle and high school taking their lives as a result of constant cyberbullying. This is why people are fighting for tougher laws against cyberbullying from schools and public officials alike. Although the ending of short lives can be agreed upon by many as rather unfortunate, not all believe that it is at the fault of the bully.
There are those who argue that bullying, in any sense whether physical, verbal, or cyber, is inevitable and that younger people today are just responding incorrectly. This is up for debate but what could be better said is an alternative to prison. “If the only tool you have is prison, then every problem looks like a crime”, as explained by NY Times author Paul butler, a former federal prosecutor in his article “New Criminal Laws Aren’t the Answer to Bullying”. Because these cyberbullies did not intend for their “victims” to end their lives they should not be sent to prison, but punished in some other way. It can also be argued that the right to Freedom of Speech is being taken away from the cyberbully if they are arrested.
According to Forbes the United States already has the highest incarceration rate in the world, spending $60.3 billion in budget expenditures. Imprisoning students would add to this and the current 2.3 million people already in our overcrowded prisons. And as stated in the Forbes article, “Bullying Is Bad, But Criminalizing Bullying Would Be Even Worse” by Eli Federman “When bullying leads to suicide it is deeply tragic, but the fact is that this result is exceptionally rare. Millions of teens are bullied annually yet few take their lives.” Because the circumstances of those taking their lives as a result of cyberbullying is minuscule in comparison to the number of all who are cyberbullied, there is no case for the criminalization of cyberbullies, but there is call for some type of just punishment.