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Resolved: cyberbullying should be a criminal offence

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/28/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 15,779 times Debate No: 13816
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (11)
Votes (1)




This is a Public Forum Debate. Those that don't know Public Forum format, don't accept this debate. Round 1 will be Speech 1. Round 2 will be Crossfire 1. Round 3 will be Speech 2. Round 4 will be Crossfire 2. Round 5 will be Summary.
Making cyberbullying a criminal offense is ridiculous. Not only would convicting a cyberbully be extremely difficult, but more importantly, making cyberbullying a crime would not reduce the damage caused by bullying. In addition, current laws are adequate in dealing with cyberbullying.

Contention 1: convicting a cyberbully would be extremely difficult

According to law professor Susan Brenner and juris doctor Megan Rehberg, to get a conviction against a defendant for bombarding someone with emotionally distressing messages, one needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to cause the inflicted harm. This is very difficult, especially if only one harmful message was sent. How does one know what another's intentions are? How does one prove to others what they are? In the case of harassment, the act of harassing or annoying someone, the Supreme Court has ruled that the term annoy is too vague, as something that annoys one will not annoy another. Getting around this ruling would be an astronomical challenge.

Convicting (and making a law against cyberbullying) is made even more difficult by the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."( Today's press and conversations reside at least partially on the Internet. To place restrictions on what one can type on the Internet would be a clear violation of the First Amendment. Although an exception to the First Amendment is speech that harms children, that applies mainly to television and radio at certain times. Speech on the Internet has full First Amendment protection.

Contention 2: the damage from bullying cannot be reduced by criminalizing it

Bullying is an act that commonly occurs in schools of all regions and income levels. Cyberbullying is no different. Is cyberbullying any less damaging to the individual and to society than traditional bullying? Should we turn a blind eye on traditional bullying and vainly assert our authority over cyberspace? Is traditional bullying even possible to prevent? Apparently not, since it has and continues to occur in our best schools. Cyberbullying is also impossible to prevent. According to, "45 states now have some sort of anti-cyberbullying law, but harassment researcher Catherine Hill says
there's no indication yet that they actually prevent bullying." If it's not possible to prevent any type of bullying, what use is it to turn the government's attention towards cyberbullying? How many lives can we truly save when we cannot prevent victims from being abused?

The answer to cyberbullying is not law enforcement, but social education. According to Newsday, "Statistics from the state Department of Education show a nearly 11 percent decline on the
Island in incidents reported as intimidation or bullying from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009.
Long Island schools offer many types of anti-bullying programs." People need to be educated on how to deal with abusive and relentless people. People need to know what to do when they are abused or when someone they know is abused. People need to know that suicide is not the answer and that there are better solutions to their problems. The government would get much greater returns investing their money in social education rather than new prisons for cyberbullies.

Contention 3: current laws are adequate when dealing with cyberbullying

According to the Congressional Research Service, limitations on the freedom of speech and press are obscenities (profanity), child pornography, true threats, inciting panic when there's no danger, and defamation (slander and libel). The types of cyberbullying are spreading rumors, targeting, identity theft, sharing embarrassing photos and e-mails, excluding, and harassment (according to the Media Awareness Network). Spreading rumors is defamation and is illegal. Identity theft is illegal. Sharing photos of a minor without their parents' permission is illegal. Harassment based on any trait that cyberbullies could think of to attack is illegal. That means that most forms of cyberbullying are illegal. The forms that aren't illegal are forms of traditional bullying that are commonplace in schools. These should be dealt with by counselors, and not law officials.

Therefore, it is evident that cyberbullying should not be a criminal offense. Convicting cyberbullies would be difficult, damage from bullying would not be reduced, and the new law would be over-controlling since current laws already solve the problem.


I'd like to thank my opponent for creating this very interesting topic. I debated against him a little while ago (, so now I'm here for the rematch!

In my opening speech I will outline the problem we are facing, and my model. Then I will address some of my opponent's advance criticisms of this model, and present two firm principles that present a clear conclusion: That cyberbullying should be a criminal offense.

Cyberbullying is the act of bullying somebody in cyberspace [1], usually through text messaging or the internet. Bullying can be defined as the act of being cruel to others [2], and manifests itself in cyberspace in many ways [6]. It happens to people of all ages and races, and it's on the rise. More alarming is that kids are doing it more than adults, so when these kids grow up, unless something is done soon, we will probably see the prevalence of cyberbullying increasing. Almost half of all US kids have been bullied while online [3]. That's not something that is OK, for a number of reasons.

First, it harms the victim. In my native New Zealand, three teenagers recently committed suicide due to text-message abuse. Aside from physical harms to the victim, there are social and emotional harms that must be considered. As with any bullying incident people still feel emotionally scarred for years to come [4], made far worse by the face that they often do not know for certain the people who cause the harm (43% of the time according to one Canadian study [3]). Often the bullying is one of the tools of choice for sexual predators too [5]. Second, it harms the person committing the cyber bullying. It gives them the idea that they can exploit people freely, as they got away with in a cyber setting. Unfortunately this is not the case, and soon they will find themselves in trouble with the law anyway. It is better to learn from a small crime than from a big one, because after committing a more minor offence such as harassment one does not feel as "trapped" within a life of crime. Third, it also has far-reaching effects on the victim's family, friends and community, as they feel vulnerable to the cyber threat and victimized along with the victim.

My model to overcome this problem is simple. An immediate, outright, international ban on cyberbullying by means of a convention. This will tackle the main reasons why people cyberbully. When people know the consequences and learn to respect others, cyberbullying incidents go down [7]. While the problem might not be totally solvable, at least having the threat is bad enough. Having an international law is a significant threat, and it teaches the main body of cybercriminals - children - that what they are doing is not OK.

What I don't mean to do is set up a false dichotomy. Any prevention would be desirable, it is only that an international ban would be the most desirable because it would tell adult cyberbullies that they cannot simply hire somebody in another country to do the dirty work for them. But what my opponent must rationalize, and what I believe he has failed to do, is why cyberbullying should not be banned, should not be an element of our social contract and therefore should be legitimized, despite the clear harms I have shown.

My opponent told you three things. First he said that conviction would be difficult. Well, maybe. Let's look at another crime where you often don't know your attacker and is hard to prove intent beyond doubt, among other challenges - rape. In the USA, the rape conviction rate is only about 12% according to a 1990 study [9]. Does this mean we should decriminalize rape as a futile exercise? Of course not, that's just silly. And by the way, all of the points about the first amendment are lies. Freedom of speech is regularly curtailed if it is hate speech, and the best lawyers agree there is no constitutional right to cyberbully [8]. Second he said that it does not remedy the harm. Well, does it ever? If I murder somebody and get shipped off to jail for life, how does that make it any better for the family of the person I killed? The point is that when people do something wrong, society is obliged to impose some form of penalty upon them for the wrong they have done. I can demonstrate that taking one life is an equivalent harm to the loss of my own life (in jail). In the same way, the harm done by cyberbullying can be remedied. He said that education does remedy the wrong. So apparently if I murder somebody then the wrong will be remedied if somebody tells me "don't do that again!" No, it won't. The harm will be removed only when I have paid the price for my crime. The same is true for any crime, including cyberbullying. Third he said that the current laws are adequate. At this point he appears to be supporting the current laws of the USA, which ban cyberbullying [8]. Great, so therefore my opponent accepts that the ban on cyberbullying is a good thing and, as a general rule, we should ban cyberbullying. I am glad my opponent agrees!

But none of that is what this debate is about. The two principles I said that I would bring to this debate are freedom from fear and innocence without guilty proof. A recent report showed that 5% of American kids are scared for their safety after cyberbullying [3]. Millions of kids are scared, in fear, because of cyberbullying. If 5% of American kids had become scared for their safety in the real world, they would have long past measures to counteract the problem. However, people think that if it happens in the virtual world it must be OK. It is not OK. Virtual gambling is as much a crime as real world gambling, so why can the same principle not be applied when people's whole mentalities are at stake? We pay our governments millions to protect us from external and internal threats to our safety - through the police and defense force - and here my opponent suggests we should ignore a significant segment of the population because the medium through which this fear is propagated is not on his select list. Second, cyberbullying makes it too easy to victimize people without guilty proof. I could post on my opponent's wall right now ("you're a _____!") and he'd be instantly victimized. The trouble is, I don't have any positive proof of anything about my opponent. If we assume innocence without guilty proof, a good portion of the cyberbullying would not happen.

Cyberbullying is wrong. I'm proud to oppose, and I'd be proud to have your vote to win this motion for the victims and all affected. I await my opponent's first crossfire anxiously.

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Debate Round No. 1


1. I concede that cyberbullying does harm the victim. However, how would criminalizing cyberbullying reduce the harm in any way? As I've stated, laws don't prevent cyberbullying at all.

2. You say that cyberbullying is a tool of choice for pedophiles. What do you mean by that?

3. You say getting away with cyberbullying gives people the idea that they can exploit people freely. That is no grounds for criminalizing something. Presently, bosses get away with verbally abusing their employees, politicians get away with being rude, and drivers get away with breaking all kinds of traffic rules. Getting away with those actions also gives people the idea that they can exploit people freely, don't you agree, but is it right to criminalize them?

4. It is better to learn from a small crime than a big crime, but would cyberbullying really be a small crime? The prosecution would try to prove that the cyberbully intentionally tried to get a victim to commit suicide. That is the equivalent of 1st degree murder.

5. You say that a victim's family, friends and community also feel unsafe when the victim is victimized. Really? I've never heard of a old-fashioned bully being a menace to anyone other than the victim. It's unreasonable that cyberbullying would be completely different from old-fashioned bullying. Where's your source for this?

6. You say that 'When people know the consequences and learn to respect others, cyberbullying incidents go down.' How would federal law be more effective than educational programs in teaching consequences and respect for others, I ask you?

7. How many teens are aware of laws that affect them? For example, no possession of child pornography?

8. For the purposes of this debate, cyberbullying will be restricted to incidents of teens hurting teens. Your 'international ban...would tell adult cyberbullies that they cannot simply hire somebody in another country' point is therefore void. (This is speech and debate's ruling)

9. How is rape in any way similar to cyberbullying?


First I will answer my opponent's questions. Then I will pose a few of my own.

1. How am I reducing harm to the victim
For the victim, a harm is never directly reduced by imposing penalties. You can't undo damage done to somebody by harming somebody else. I have made it clear from the outset that my model does not give the victim rehabilitation or undoes the abuse. What it does do is give the victim justice. It gives the victim peace of mind that their attacker is unlikely to take the same action again. It restores their faith in the justice system. It protects them from future harm, as other would-be attackers know that this particular victim will tell the police. The benefits to the victim are indeed numerous. However, even these cannot be considered in isolation. They ignore the benefits to the other stakeholders as well ... the community and the attacker. These are equally numerous.
My opponent also mentions his belief that these laws won't work. First, see my rape analogy that I deal with in question 9. Second, even if justice is not done for the victims, which I do not concede, then at least justice will be seen to be done. This is important because only then is the role of the state fulfilled. Third, most importantly, this argument is a subjective construction. The only objective argument my opponent has launched here is a reference to the first amendment, which I debunked in my speech. You can, in fact, prove mens rea (guilt of mind) beyond reasonable doubt using a text message. One would not accidentally text "you are a loser" to somebody without meaning to cause them pain.

2. How is cyberbullying used by pedophiles
Cyberbullying is used by pedophiles, usually over the internet, to get young children to feel weak and control them. Not affecting this argument is your new rule that you will only debate this topic within the context of the teenage years, because first I made it before you unfairly shifted the context, and second because teenage pedophiles do in fact exist. Also see my rant under question 8.

3. Exploitation not grounds for criminalization
Agreed. But that's not to say it's not a harm that can be remedied. By criminalizing something that does have such grounds, cyber-bullying, the harm is automatically corrected. It is, so to say, a positive externalize.

4. Cyberbullying not a small crime
Usually it is. My opponent is right to point out that sometimes it is not, but as my opponent also points out, in these cases other laws deal with the situation adequately - for example, identity theft legislation.

5. Bullying only a harm to the victim
First my opponent's example - schoolyard bullying - is silly. The internet is anonymous so bullies feel safer [1]. Often there is also less supervision and less ability for the victim to escape the bully [2].
Second, even schoolyard bullies can terrorize a family, who become concerned for a child's safety. They can in fact scare all who love and care for that child. Being a person who was often terrorized and hurt at school, by both other students and staff members, I know that my family suffered incredibly. My personal story might be a bit of an extreme example, but it underscores the point that bullies bully not just the victim alone.

6. Why is law more effective than education
Because you cannot have education until you have the law. When I was at school, my teachers told me and my class all the time not to smoke cigarettes. That didn't stop about a quarter of my leaving year becoming smokers as soon as they left boarding school. Why? There was no law banning them. By way of contrast, we were also told not to take ecstasy. To the best of my knowledge (and because we were a very small school, my knowledge is pretty good), only one person from my form has ever even tried ecstasy, and none of them are regular "users". Why? Ecstasy is illegal. If you get busted you are screwed, figuratively speaking.
Besides, it is not as though teenagers are unaware of the news and what goes on around them. Recently in New Zealand "texting" was banned in cars. Today, only about one or two fines are given for this a month, and even that rate is dropping (apparently)! Despite the fact, of course, that the biggest group of mobile-phone using drivers are teenagers.

7. Are teens aware of the fact they may not possess child porn?
Yes. Yes they are. Ask them. If they are not, then it goes to show that your local education system fails. It's certainly on our curriculum. But without the law, you could never teach the kids these things, as I have stated.

8. We're not debating adults anymore
First, you can't differentiate between adults and teens in a pure virtual world, so this ruling is itself of no practical significance and so totally void anyway. Second, substitute adults with kids and the argument is completely true even if it stood. Third this point is an implementational detail, and like I said, I do not want to have a false dichotomy between implementations. Fourth the ruling is officially challenged by my side of the house on the grounds that it is unfair to introduce a new element of context after context has been set and my arguments have been made. I expect a response from the chair justifying this ruling, otherwise we declare it moot. Until then, this point stands.

9. How is rape like cyberbullying?
Like I said before, unknown attacker, hard to prove the intentions of both parties, and as you predicted would happen if cyberbullying was illegal, very low conviction rate.

My questions:
1) How many more innocent children need to die before my opponent agrees this harm must be remedied?
2) Can my opponent show any significant costs that warrant cyberbullying's exclusion from the social contract?
3) On education, how and why will that be any more effective than the law? Don't you agree that it is your onus to prove this, not the other way around?
4) Why is difficulty of conviction a valid ground for not convicting?
5) Do you believe it is important for our kids to grow up in an environment free from fear?
6) Do you believe that any measure to counteract false victimization in our society is fundamentally good by virtue of this fact?
7) Why do you think that, despite large-scale internet anti-cyberbullying educational campaigns, cyberbullying still goes on?

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Debate Round No. 2


First I will answer my opponent's questions. Then, I will go on to speech 2.
1. This harm must be remedied, but not by criminalizing it.
2. Yes, when we talk about criminal offences we are talking about people's futures. My opponent is proposing that we send cyberbullies to jail for hurtful speech that is commonplace in the workplace and at school. He is suggesting that dramatically increasing the difficulty of getting good jobs is just punishment for cyberbullies.
3. Did you read my quotes from speech 1. 45 states have had no results with anti-cyberbullying laws, but Long Island had great results with a few educational programs.
4. Difficulty of conviction makes it more likely that there would be no conviction. It makes no sense to waste the court's time with cases that are highly probable to have no conviction.
5. Yes, and because of this belief I seek the best solution to the cyberbullying issue, which is not, as my opponent believes, making cyberbullying a criminal offence.
6. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' This is the case with the measure of criminalizing cyberbullying. The intentions may be good, but criminalization brings with it a host of problems. The risks outweigh the advantages.
7. 2 reasons: One, attacking cyberbullies have no face to face contact with their victims. They cannot perceive the harm that they cause to the victims. Two, some just take joy in making others suffer. You are not going to make this go away by criminalizing cyberbullying, nor will you prevent them from ruining lives. They will seek other routes to terrorize.

To my opponent: I'm sorry that I didn't make clear in Round 1 that cyberbullying is to be defined as teens hurting teens, but that is speech and debate's definition, and I'm debating here to prepare for speech and debate. I will answer your current arguments, but I will ignore any more reference to adult cyberbullying.

Speech 2:

My opponent has stated that 5% of American children are scared after cyberbullying, but in the real world, at least 5% of American children are scared after bullying. Any fear online happens as a result of what happens in the real world. Therefore my opponent can post anything he wants on my wall and I would not care. I would want to see his evidence for his derogatory statements. I would taunt the fact that he cannot follow up on his threats. But if he went to my school, and had a reputation for mischief and a rash choler (bad temper), and happened to be my personal tormentor in school, I would have reason to fear for my safety should he threaten my life or my well-being. Cyberbullying is wrong, but the wrong in cyberbullying comes from bullying. Is the correct way of dealing with bullying criminalization? If not, what reason does my opponent use to justify criminalizing cyberbullying?
My opponent has mislead you into thinking that cyberbullying is similar to rape and therefore should be criminalized. I ask you, how does cyberbullying share anything with rape? Is a rapist's intentions crystal clear? Would a rapist not know the harm that he causes? The answer to both these questions is yes, and that is why rape is illegal in this country. With cyberbullying, things are less clear. Most bullies mean to cause emotional pain, but not enough to motivate a victim to commit suicide. Most bullies don't know that they've caused more harm than appears on the surface, and that's why there have been school shootings and suicides. Criminalizing cyberbullying does not prevent these tragedies.
I ask my opponent to define hate speech, since apparently he is willing to sacrifice his liberty to prevent it. Bosses verbally abuse employees every day. Does this count as hate speech? Apparently not, since there have been no law suits. What makes it ok for bosses to be mean, but illegal for kids to be mean?
My opponent has a different interpretation of the phrase 'reduce harm'. I use this phrase to mean 'to prevent further harm', while my opponent takes the literal direction and uses it to say 'reduce the harm that the victim has suffered'. My opponent completely misunderstands me and rants for a half-paragraph that harm from actions cannot be undone. I agree, but the question is whether education can prevent further harm, not if it can resocialize criminals.
He and I also have different interpretations of my 3rd contention. Current laws ban some aspects of cyberbullying, but not all. My opponent thinks that some is a synonym for all and uses the term cyberbullying, which is interpreted as all cyberbullying. The fact is that some aspects of verbal abuse need to be banned, but others are our liberties and should be defended.
My opponent's international ban idea is not bad, but it fails to solve the problem (how many people actually hire foreign cronies?). 'For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, one strikes at the root.' In other words, for every thousand battling the effects of evil, one seeks to remedy the cause. We need to strike at the root, not pass new legislation to hack at the leaves. To strike at the root, we need social education. We need to teach people how to avoid being a target. We need to teach people what to do if they fear for their safety. We need to teach potential bullies that acts of unkindness are not tolerated.


I'd like to thank my opponent for his swift and detailed responses, though there were not many of them so this speech will be curt. In this speech I will be focusing on rebuttal, for surprisingly little of my first speech's constructive has been directly challenged.

When I put the question to my opponent, what harm he thinks my model will bring, he told you it would be harder for cyberbullies to get jobs. He claims that ruining a person's life, self-esteem, power and ultimately job prospects, is correctly remedied by teaching people not to cyberbully. How many of us have been told in church to treat others as we want to be treated? How few of us do? My opponent responds to none of my analysis as to why a legal threat is needed for education to work. Besides, if harder work prospects for bullies is the worst thing that can come of this model, then that's a good thing too. It is good for employers, who know that some people are more prone to injure others. It is good for the victims because it gives them a sense of justice, which your counter-model does not provide. And it is good for the bullies themselves, as an effective deterrent from doing the crime again. My opponent makes a superficial case for why education prevents further harm in addition. It doesn't matter whether it does or doesn't, my opponent still needs to knock down my model before he can build up his.
He later adds that it is unfair to criminalize something for adults and not for kids. I would gladly answer this question fully, but the chair has foolishly barred me from making any argument pertaining to adults. I also challenge the very question as it goes against the spirit of the motion and is therefore a squirreled point. I think it is fair to say this, however: if a blanket ban were to be imposed it would be optimal, but any effort to eradicate this nuisance must surely be better than none. Hate speech in the workplace is actually banned in most jurisdictions, unless it can be proven to be true. A similar sort of thing can be imposed for the cyberworld. Problem solved.

Then my opponent talks about legal effectiveness and the Long Island example. In Long Island there was an 11% decline. This means that while previously (my estimate, based on the US-wide proportion) 5% of children felt threatened, now 4.45% felt threatened. Even with this totally unacceptably small drop, there are problems with these figures. Teens are less likely to report cyberbullying if they have been given a large-scale educational program telling them that it is not OK to cyberbully, because it gives them the impression that it is taboo within society and thus that people don't do it. Therefore when somebody does do it to them they do not identify it correctly and therefore do not report it. If cyberbullying really WAS taboo within society, as would be the case under a hybrid model (education and legal change), then this would not be the case. If cyberbullying was just made illegal, that fact in and of itself would educate people, especially if ratified by international convention, through the process I discussed earlier. That 45 states had no results is a lie - as it was not done as part of a study, we have no reliable statistics on whether or not it had an impact or how great this impact was. I tend to suspect it was somewhat higher than the Long Island case, but that is just my opinion against yours so the point is moot at best.

Next my opponent says difficulty in conviction means that conviction is a waste of time. Great, so I guess we should abolish all trials with low conviction rates. Starting, as I alluded to, with rape. If we keep rape, you have nothing against cyberbullies. To this my opponent later stated that in rape, the intention and knowledge of harm is always crystal clear. In fact, this is a lie. Most of the time there are significant complications - in New Zealand, I know for instance that over three quarters of all rape trials concern rape where at least one party was drunk. It is also usually very hard to prove that the victim did not intend to consent, which of course must all be shown beyond reasonable doubt. It must be remembered that in criminal cases, if something is in doubt, it must work in favor of the defendant. He also claims that a bully's motivations are unclear, before going on to tell us exactly what a bully's motivations are. Either he lied to the house with his statements of a bully's motivations, or his judgment that a bully's motivations are unclear has shifted.

Then my opponent tells you he agrees with all of my principles. Yay!

Finally, my opponent conceeds that education, in many cases, does not work. He claimed this was because of the joy of suffering and lack of accountability to victims. These are exactly the problems that my model remedies. With a legal avenue for resolving these problems, you give the bullies pain to counteract their joy in others suffering, and hold them accountable for their actions.

Answering my questions thus is almost the only substantive material my opponent added to his table of arguments. The other thing he said was that he supports the current laws banning some cyberbullying. While opposed to a blanket ban on cyberbullying, he admits the present legislation is good and working, but anything more is "our liberties." Last time I checked, there was no freedom to cyberbully in the law. I have already debunked his reference to the first amendment, so I'd like my opponent, as one of his questions, to name and ask me to read a statute, case or declaration that proclaims the legality of cyberbullying and is in force today. He won't, because there isn't one.

This debate is all about how to resolve the problem of cyberbullying. I have shown how all the key stakeholders are better off with a ban, why a ban is more effective than education alone and exactly how a ban would work. All my opponent has really said is that education might work too. I agree. But that does nothing to attack the motion, and neither is it mutually exclusive with my model - voters can agree with both of us and the motion would still fall to my side of the house, despite the fact that your model is so weak that it ignores more than half of the stakeholders and is ineffective in and of itself. Primarily, ladies and gentlemen, this debate is about fixing a menace on our world. You have two options - apply a band aid of education to the root of the issue, or do something more to heal it. Law is not all about penalizing, it is about healing too. Let us do something together to save our most vulnerable.
Debate Round No. 3


1. My opponent compares cyberbullying education to church, but how many of us actually go to church these days? How many of us actually listen to the preacher instead of zoning out and worrying about other stuff?

2. If legal threats were needed for education to work, why are there still teenage smokers? Isn't tobacco illegal for those under 21? Don't teenagers from affluent schools attend lots of lectures on the consequences of smoking?

3. My opponent argues that a hard time finding a job is what cyberbullies deserve. What happened to your point that cyberbullying would be a minor crime? 'It is good for employers'? How many potential good employees would they have to reject because of the bureaucratic system? 'It is good for the victims'? In what way? Wouldn't the cyberbully seek revenge, causing the victim to be in more fear? 'It is good for the bullies'? Have you ever been unemployed and starving in the streets? That is the fate of many criminals. If this was your unchangeable fate, would it matter if you cyberbullied again? My opponent forgot society. How would criminalizing cyberbullying benefit society?

4. When have I said the chair banned all reference to adults? I said the chair banned reference to adult cyberbullying.

5. 'Any effort to eradicate this nuisance must surely be better than none'? What about an effort that does not reduce the old problem, but creates new ones? Criminalizing cyberbullying would be exactly that, don't you agree?

6. Agreed with your principles? When?

7. 'I'd like my opponent, as one of his questions, to name and ask me to read a statute, case or declaration that proclaims the legality of cyberbullying and is in force today'. Now that you ask, I'd like you to read a statute, case, or declaration that proclaims the illegality of cyberbullying and is in force today. This is one of your points, and I challenge you to provide some evidence to support it.

I will await my opponent's reply.


I'm sorry to my opponent, sadly I am busy all weekend and cannot post my argument then. I hope that this isn't too much of a problem, and I'm really sorry.

First my answers to my opponent's questions:

1) Who actually listens to preachers these days?
Several people. However, in just the same way, I could say "how many of us actually get cyberbullying education these days?" The present scale does not void the argument. However, I further contend that the present scale wasn't the argument. If my opponent insists people do what they learn without legal threat, he must agree all Christians are following the golden rule. This is regardless of how many Christians there are. In the same way, my opponent claims all who receive cyberbullying education do not cyberbully, even when they have no reason not to cyberbully other than a teacher telling them not to, and perhaps many reasons to cyberbully, such as a provocation. I doubt that logic.

2) Why are there still teenage smokers?
There is no legal threat against smoking. Sure, there is an age restriction, but teens have never cared for age restrictions. They have, however, cared for the law. This is why anti-Marijuana education is working much better than anti-Tobacco education, as evidenced by the smoker rates. That is why blanket legislation for everybody will solve the problem for teens, or at least make it smaller so that it is manageable for counselors to deal with.

3) This was really a lot of questions under one heading...

a) How does having a hard time finding a job repay a minor crime?
Theft is also usually a minor crime, but it gives people a hard time finding a job. I think present theft legislation works well.

b) How many good people would be rejected by firms because of bureaucracy?
Hopefully, none. It should be up to the firms to decide whether they want to hire a known cyberbully or not. All this has nothing to do with bureaucracy.

c) Wouldn't the cyberbully seek revenge, causing the victim to be in more fear?
If that is what the victim thinks, then counseling can help! The cyberbully would clearly not seek revenge as they have learnt their lesson the hard way. Repeat offending for cyberbullying is already very low at present.

d) Have you ever been unemployed and starving in the streets?
Besides the point. Cyberbullies would benefit as they learn a lesson. I think you'll find most ex-criminals are in fact in employment, especially ex-criminals who have only committed a single, small crime with no prison term attached.

e) How would criminalizing cyberbullying benefit society?
As I said in round one, anything that helps the victim inherently helps society.

4) When did the chair say not to reference adults?
A consequence of the chair's decision to uphold the ruling without any regard for my arguments against is exactly this, for if we cannot speak of adult cyberbullying, we cannot speak of the criminalization of adults. My model is still criminalizing it for everyone (pre-teens, teens and adults), but in this debate my arguments can only pertain specifically to teens, because otherwise I'd be suggesting positive benefits to adults. In the context of the argument I was making, I still maintain the blanket criminalization is optimal, and criminalization for only teens (like my opponent suggested, but which isn't my model) is better than not criminalizing.

5) What about an effort that does not reduce the old problem, but creates new ones?
My opponent has failed to show his supposed new problems. I have clearly shown the mechanism by which legal threats can solve old problems, and why they will in this scenario. Therefore I do not agree that criminalization is such an effort.

6) Agreed with your principles? When?
When you answered my last set of questions, numbers 5 and 6.

7) Now that you ask, I'd like you to read a statute, case, or declaration that proclaims the illegality of cyberbullying and is in force today.
Funny that you couldn't give me yours. This totally destroys your point that freedom to cyberbully is in the law, or that cyberbullying is freedom of speech. By way of contrast, I gave you no points that have anything to do with the legality of cyberbullying except as rebuttal to your points. As to what I'd refer you to, what was that legislation you pointed to in round one again? Anti-cyberbullying legislation, was it not?

Now my questions:

1) I have offered the model of criminalization. You've agreed with my problem but doubted my method. Please tell me why:
a) It is wrong for cyberbullies to be punished for cyberbullying.
b) It is wrong for victims to be given the strongest and best avenue of closure after a cyberbullying incident.
c) It is wrong for society to feel supported by their government, with reference to cyberbullying.

2) You have offered and elaborated a counter model in this debate, of education. Please tell me how education deals with:
a) The bullies once they have offended
b) The victims who have already been hurt
c) Society once a victim has been hurt

3) I think the best cure for cyberbullying would be prevention. Could you tell us why my model of criminalization does not prevent cyberbullying, with reference to all of my (heretofore unresponded) analysis that the law is an effective deterrant.

4) Could you now tell us why your model of education prevents cyberbullying, with reference to my unresponded-to analysis that education without a legal aspect achieves nothing?

5) In this debate you've tried to tell us that education is superior to criminalization, as if one would cancel the other. Do you not believe, in the back of your mind, that if we had both that would be ideal? Why do you think the two sides to this debate are mutually exclusive? Have you not fallen in to the trap of giving voters a false dichotomy? If your answer to any of the above is "true," then please tell us how you have fulfilled your onus to knock down my argument, being the neg.

6) I gave analysis in my last speech as to why education is indeed less effective than criminalization. I told you it gives accountability and removes the joy of suffering. Respond.

I'd like to thank my opponent for a great debate and look forward to the conclusion rounds.
Debate Round No. 4


merciless forfeited this round.


Once again I'm sorry to my opponent that I had to post that round so early. I didn't really have much of choice, however. I too was busy on the weekend.

Out of respect to my opponent, I suggest we skip the conclusion rounds. My opponent may answer my questions in the comments - voters please check there too.

One last thing. Please vote pro. Honestly, a vote for con is not a vote for effective help. It's a vote for the denial of legal recognition of a serious problem. Whatever model you think is best, only a pro vote will make a difference.
Debate Round No. 5
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RougeFox 5 years ago
The con seems to be showing the disadvantages of criminalization in the 1st and 2nd contentions and then argues that current laws are effective in the 3rd contention. It seems odd to argue status quo and ineffectiveness of criminalization.
Posted by merciless 5 years ago
6. First of all, who would take the accountability for cyberbullying? Hacking occurs all the time, even on government websites. We hear it on the news. If someone cyberbullied from your account, then you would take the blame, instead of the real cyberbully. Second, how do you know that the joy of others' suffering is taken away by the law. Bullying is equally damaging and equally amusing to those that like to make others suffer
Posted by merciless 5 years ago
1a. It's not wrong to punish cyberbullies, it's just wrong to criminalize cyberbullying. It does not reduce the problem in any way, but instead makes more people unemployed.

b. Victims deserve the best avenue for closure: which is to learn not to be an easy target, not suing someone and getting them in jail.

c. The government should support society in preventing the problem, and not to create new problems while trying to solve old ones.

2a. Education teaches cyberbullies the effects of their actions, making them sympathize with their victims and less likely to cyberbully again.

b. Education teaches the victims what to do about their pain. It also helps them avoid being targets in the future.

c. All of the things I said above benefit society. Less repeat cyberbullying and less targets attracting cyberbullying mean less suffering in society.

3. The law is not an effective deterrent. 45 states have laws against cyberbullying that bring no results. Teenagers smoke and send naked pictures of themselves despite the presence of the law.

4. Most of us don't smoke as teenagers because of education. You might say that this is because it's illegal for teens to smoke. But that doesn't explain why most of us remain non-smokers for the rest of our lives, while many people 2 generations ago smoked (according to Dana Green, sociology teacher). This is because 2 generations ago, there was no education on the health effects of smoking, as opposed to now. Therefore, education does not depend on the law, as my opponent claims. Therefore, education for cyberbullying will work without legal repercussions for cyberbullying.

5. Education is superior to criminalization, but that is not what we are arguing in this debate. We are arguing whether criminalizing cyberbullying works. Since criminalizing cyberbullying doesn't work, a system with both the law and educational programs would not be ideal.
Posted by merciless 5 years ago
larz, can you wait until Saturday to post your argument? I won't be able to be online Friday or the weekend.
Posted by Yogurt 5 years ago
Wikipedia is a pretty reliable source. hehe, wasn't the comments section a debate about wiki sources on the October resolution?

Also, anyone care to help eachother on the Aff? :/
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
@Captain_Ronnie - it is better than my opponent, who has posted just one source in this whole debate so far! Besides, I have plenty of other sources to back up my claims.
Posted by Captain_Ronnie 5 years ago
Wikipedia isn't a very reliable resource...
Posted by RougeFox 5 years ago
I would do this if it were just a rebuttal. I wouldn't want to post my case.
Posted by Yogurt 5 years ago
I would take this but I only finished my Neg case so far... Aff seems a lot harder than Neg
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by alfredowp95 5 years ago
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