DA: Cyberbullying incidents continue to rise


Sabrina Ulloa, Editor-in-Chief

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With 16 million text messages sent every minute, in an instant a teen’s life can be turned upside down by cyberbullying. Not only has cyberbullying slowly risen but it has also become more of a threat to the lives of all youth around the world.

“Back in the day when we were young, people would bully people by passing notes or saying things and the word would get out,” Harris County District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Division Chief John Jordan said. “Now with social media and cell phones, now it just takes what we had to experience as kids and takes it to another level and the consequences are greater because it reaches more people.”

Cyberbullying is just as painful as any other type of bullying. Although it may not leave any physical scars, it can be emotionally damaging. There is no way to escape cyberbullying—the threat can now come into you own bedroom and be hard to escape.

“I think children and teenagers today face such greater issues involving bullying issues within dating relationships that we were never presented with,” Deputy Division Chief of Sex Crimes Johna Stallings said. “And I think it’s very stressful, it’s very emotional, it’s a lot of pressure on children to conform or worry about what people will think of them. So it’s definitely an issue that we worry about as prosecutors and as parents.”

This can have long term ratifications on both the victim and the bully which can later ruin their lives. Cyberbullying is an easy way for a small group of people to attain a lot of power.

“Cyberbullying can lead to suicide,” Jordan said. “When you take someone’s images, or their personal business and put it all out there, it can be humiliating. And for a teenager their social makeup is everything to [them].”


As prosecutors, both Jordan and Stallings take their job very seriously as they hold accountable those who hide behind a phone in order to harm someone else. Some jurisdictions have gone as far as manslaughter.

“I think it’s important for people to know that there is consequences about what happens on the other end meaning I don’t care what someone’s intent was,” Jordan said. “If that cyber action causes great harm then it just means that they can be in more harm.”

When a situation escalates from cyberbullying to holding inappropriate pictures of other students the felonies of those guilty also increase and have long term consequences in the future.

“If you do take photos and you post those online or you send them out to other students or friends and you are sharing these pictures of what is [unclothed] pictures of a child then you can face serious felony offenses which can involve prison time because it does involve a child,” Stallings said.

It is illegal for someone to send a naked picture of themselves to somebody if they are under 18 and in case that does happen, they can be charged with the felony of obscenity. And if the person who receives the picture doesn’t immediately delete it then they can be charged with the felony of obscenity as well.

And the situation is worse if the students are outside of 2 years apart in age because they can be charged with child pornography. Also, if the student is 17 years old then they have to register as a child offender for the rest of their lives.

“Deleting does not work. And if you receive a picture we can also see if you deleted it and if deleted then they may not be charged,” Jordan said.


Often times, those who bully others have been bullied themselves in the past, might have issues going on, or might just be doing it for fun which is why it is extremely important to talk to an adult if a student sees something out of the ordinary.

“Say something, be brave. It takes a lot of courage but ultimately your helping prevent someone from getting hurt and yourself because if that person has done it to you then they will do it again,” Stallings said. “They’ll think you’re weak for not saying anything.”

According to Jordan, tips regarding strange behavior or cyberbullying come from an outside source. By speaking up, one could stop a tragedy from occurring.

“We’ve seen that with a lot of school shootings. We see children who have had issues in the past and if no one says anything then it just escalades and people end up getting hurt,” Stallings said.

One recent event that frightened the hearts of many students around Texas was the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe where 8 students and 2 teachers lost their lives.

“Last school year we charged more youth in all of Texas and all the nation with threats on schools. We told every independent school district that we are partners with them and that we’re not going to have another school shooting on our watch,” Jordan said.

If a student shares threats on social media and later claims that it was all a joke then that student may still be charged. This is why it is extremely important to contact a parent, teacher, or another adult. Look for people who suddenly start skipping classes, seem more upset than usual, aren’t themselves, suddenly angry, or don’t want to do what they usually do because you could be that one person who helps someone else.

“With great access comes a lot of responsibility and people can get themselves in a lot of trouble,” Jordan said.