Parents need to step up the supervision of their children's social media activity, according to an appellate court in Georgia.
The three judge panel unanimously held that the parents of a 7th grade boy could found negligent by a jury for a Facebook page that their son created intentionally to harass and bully a female student.
The fake profile page indicated that the female was a promiscuous, racist, and homosexual drug user.
Once the boy was tied to the creation of the account, he received a 2-day in-school suspension and was allegedly grounded for a week by his parents. However, the defamatory Facebook page remained active for nearly a year, until it was finally deactivated by Facebook at the request of the girl's parents.
According to the court's opinion,
“[The boy's parents] did not attempt to learn to whom [their son] had distributed the false and offensive information or whether the distribution was ongoing. They did not tell [their son] to delete the page. Furthermore, they made no attempt to determine whether the false and offensive information [their son] was charged with distributing could be corrected, deleted, or retracted.”
Under the common law, parents are responsible to reasonably supervise the actions of their children and may be held liable for failing to control conduct which presents an unreasonable risk of harm to others.
This the first decision to extend this parental duty to online activity, and could potentially set precedent nationwide.
Frankly, it is about time parents like this are held responsible for turning a blind eye to cyber bullying. It is a growing problem that has physical, mental and psychological effects on its victims. Kudos to Facebook for taking action where the parents and school failed.