Cyberbullying hits close to home

Staff Writer

   There’s a common thread in many of the Grenada police reports these days.
   In one case, an ex-wife is stalking her former spouse because she is sending threatening texts and calling incessantly.
   In another case, one woman is irate at another because a third person has gone to jail. She vents her anger through texts that promise bodily harm and degradation.
   The crime of cyberstalking is becoming more common in the Lake City, and police detectives say they’re having to be aware of the crime.  
   “Phone harassment was the first incarnation of this, then cell phones came into the picture, then texting,” said Det. Sgt. Paul Bennett. “Cyberbullying or cyberstalking can also include e-mails and other electronic means of communication,” he said.
   The statue that police follow in identifying and defining the crime says that using electronic communications to threaten harm to someone or their loved ones or property, with the intent to terrify or harass, is considered cyberstalking. The crime carries a maximum penalty to $5,000 or two years in jail.
   “I would say that it’s a repeated, credible threat,” said Bennett. “Something that interrupts the regular flow of your life on a continual basis,” he said.  
   “The second offense makes it aggravated,” Bennett added, “Meaning that if a person is convicted of cyberstalking while on probation, or in violation of a restraining order, for example, the charge escalates to a felony.
   “This is a serious charge, and people should be aware of what it is and what constitutes a crime,” said Bennett.

For the full story, see the online edition or the printed edition of the GrenadaStar.

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