In the United States, where more and more children gain access to digital means of communication at young age, cyber bullying has become a common topic. In April 2019, more than a third of middle and high school students in the U.S. stated that they had ever been cyber bullied. In most instances of online harassing, the perpetrators are in the same age group as their victim – and many times also a school colleague or neighbor. Therefore, some cyber bullying incidents may not be reported.
Due to their insidious nature and persistent damage such harassment may inflict, internet bullying is listed amongst the most important online safety topics for both online teens and their parents. Cyber bullying is indeed one of the most discussed topics in regards of social media risks according to parents in the United States. In 2018, 26 percent of parents in the United States reported that their child was a victim of cyber bullying. Most parents worldwide are aware that social networks, mobile, and online messaging are platforms for cyber bullying children.
A number of highly publicized suicide cases, in which youth affected by online threats, teasing or malicious rumors spread about them online have decided to take their own lives, have helped create laws in the U.S. which aim to discourage perpetrators and to protect victims of such acts. As of November 2018, some 48 states have passed state cyber bullying laws, and 44 states have included criminal sanctions for cyber bullying. Many state laws also focused on sexting, that is, the act of sending, receiving or forwarding photos or videos with explicit sexual content. Although the sender or receiver intended for this content to be private, the ease of digital technology can lead these images or videos to reach a wider public - especially when for example vengeful ex-partners spread these images online. This online behavior is called revenge porn. As of October 2019, 25 states in the U.S. had sexting laws, and nine explicitly included the word sexting. A total of 42 states have revenge porn laws.