Cyberbullying to become illegal in Michigan

MARQUETTE — Nowadays bullies are just not on the playground..its a growing problem that most teenagers face around the United States.

Come March 28th a new Cyber bullying bill will make it illegal for someone to post something on the internet or any type of social media platform that can be deemed as a threat that can cause harm or death to another person.

“To simply post a credible threat to seriously harm or kill another person is a 93 day misdemeanor. If it results in serious harm to the person, it’s a 5 year felony. If it results in death to another person, it’s a 10 year felony. To do it a 2nd time would make it a 1 year misdemeanor. It has a incremental range of penalties. From 93 days to 1 year, to 5 – 10 years. Depending on the degree of harm,” said Matt Wiese, Marquette County Prosecutor.

The prosecutor recommends taking screenshots to build a case of evidence so it can be proven in court.

“The screenshots are good, but if it something that is more permanent where it doesn’t delete itself from your device; save it there. What we really need to is do a forensic evaluation of the device, tablet, phone or computer. To get it admitted into law, we have to establish it was in fact on the device and it was legitimately there,” Wiese added.

Cyber bullying is getting easier with the developing technology, where often time’s bullies hide behind screen names and email addresses that don’t exist.

“I think that the anonymity that people have behind a screen and not having to face somebody face to face, helps to embolden them to say or do things they wouldn’t do if they actually had to talk to a person directly,” said Wiese.

Unlike when parents were children, the problem no longer stays at school.

The Michigan State Police recommends parents know what their kids are doing on their devices.

“we’re encouraging parents to sit down and talk to their children, before they go online and make threatening or harassing messages that might emotionally hurt somebody,” said Stacy Rasanen, Michigan State Police Trooper.

The Michigan State Police has been visiting the schools to educate kids on Cyber bullying.