Montana Department of Justice
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There are many definitions of cyberbullying.  Quite simply, cyberbullying is “Willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.”

  • willful: the actions are deliberate, not accidental
  • repeated: there is a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident
  • harm: the target feels hurt or humiliated
  • computer, cell phones and other electronic devices: this is what makes it cyberbullying and not bullying††

Cyberbully: an individual or group that uses information and communication involving electronic technologies to deliberately and repeatedly harass or threaten another individual or group. In cyberspace, bullies can easily (and sometimes anonymously) say and do mean and inappropriate things with just the click of a button. Cyberbullies don’t have to be more physically or socially powerful than their victims. They may use fictitious names to create online social networking and email accounts, which they then use to cyberbully others. For example, in 2006, a 16-year-old boy connected with a 13-year-old-girl via Over time, the online relationship became flirtatious until the boy turned mean, calling the girl names and suggesting the world would be better off without her. The young girl was deeply hurt and ultimately hanged herself in her bedroom closet. It turned out that the “boy” was, in reality, a virtual identity created by a 47-year-old woman in the neighborhood, who allegedly wanted to find out how the young girl felt about her daughter.

How Common is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is one of the most common and hurtful ways young people (and some adults) misuse the Internet. They use technology to bully through personal web pages; social networking sites such as MySpace, FaceBook or Flickr; YouTube; cell phone, text, picture and video messages; email and IMing; and blogs and forums. Cyberbullying is widespread. A 2008 study of 1,454 students aged 12 to 17 found that nearly three quarters of students reported being bullied online in the past 12 months (72%) and that they knew the perpetrators (73%).  In the past 12 months:

  • 41% of the students reported being cyberbullied between 1 and 3 times
  • 13% reported 4 to 6 incidents
  • 19% reported 7 or more incidents(Juvonen and Gross, Extending the school grounds?—Bullying experiences in cyberspace, 2008)

However, only 1 in 10 students reported it to an adult. Insults were the No. 1 reported problems, and password theft was the second highest ranking issue. This involves someone stealing a password, logging onto an account and sending or uploading content that makes the account owner look bad. The study also found that:

  • 75% of the respondents were female.
  • Girls were far more likely to use blogs, Instant Messaging (IM), email and cell phones than boys.
  • Most often, cyberbullying was done through IM.
  • Students who frequently used webcams were the most likely to be repeatedly bullied.

Types of Cyberbullying

(From the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens, Cyber-Secure Schools (PDF) unless otherwise indicated.)

Cyber Stalking: Repeatedly sending messages that are threatening or intimidating. Engaging in other online activities that make the victim afraid for his or her safety.

Cyber Threats: The use of a computer, cell phone or other electronic device to threaten a person’s physical safety and well-being (Hinduja & Patchin 2009).

Defamation: “Dissing” someone online. Sending or posting cruel gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.

Exclusion: Intentionally excluding someone from an online group, like a buddy list.

Flaming or Trolling: Online fighting using electronic messages with angry and crude language.

Happy Slapping: A phenomenon that links traditional bullying with cyberbullying where an unsuspected person is recorded being harassed or bullied in a way that usually includes some type of physical abuse.  The digital photo or video is uploaded to the web (Hinduja & Patchin 2009).

Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude and insulting messages.

Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material online that makes the victim look bad, gets the victim in trouble or danger, or damages the victim’s reputation or friendships.

Outing and Trickery: Sharing someone’s secret or embarrassing information online. Tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information that is then shared online.

Photoshopping: The modification or alteration of a photo or image.  This becomes cyberbullying if the image is altered in a humiliating or obscene way and uploaded to the Web (Hinduja & Patchin 2009).

Signs of Cyberbullying

A young person who is being bullied via the Internet or a cell phone may:

  • be frustrated or angry after computer or cell phone use
  • avoid discussions about computer or cell phone use
  • become anxious over instant messages or emails
  • have sudden changes in mood or disposition
  • stop using a computer

[blockquote]“… Cyberbullying starts in second grade these days, as soon as they’re interactive, which is becoming younger and younger with sites like Webkinz and Club Penguin and kids using text messaging on cell phones and AIM at much earlier ages. It starts at six or seven these days.” —Parry Aftab, Executive director, quoted on PBS FRONTLINE[/blockquote]

The cyberbully may:

  • avoid discussions about computer use
  • become agitated when unable to use the computer
  • use the computer excessively
  • use multiple accounts that may not be his or her own
  • close programs down or not allow anyone else to view the screen

What to Do

For information on how to prevent cyberbullying – see the Teens and Tweens section on What to do If your child is being cyberbullied National and state freedom of speech laws include and protect Internet speech, even if that speech is critical, annoying, offensive or demeaning, so long as it does not include a direct threat or incite violence. However, if your child is the victim of cyberbullying, help your child follow these guidelines:

  • Keep their parents or another trusted adult informed of the bullying.
  • Speak with their teacher, principal or SRO if it is school related.

Remember that cyberbullying is not about them, it is about bullies who:

  • want to feel powerful
  • are seeking attention
  • probably have been bullied themselves
  • Don’t open or read messages by cyberbullies.
  • Don’t react to the bully – ignore them.
  • Walk away from the computer.

If ignoring the bully doesn’t work:

  • Again, keep parents or another trusted adult informed of the bullying.
  • Speak with their teacher, principal or SRO if it is school related.
  • Don’t meet with the bully.
  • Block the bully.
  • Don’t erase messages or images from the bully.  Save them to a folder as evidence in case the bullying escalates and law enforcement gets involved.
  • Contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to report the harassment.
  • Inform the police if the child is threatened with harm.

As a parent, get involved.

  • Establish Internet Responsibility Guidelines in your home.
  • Determine, with your children, what it means to be responsible and respectful when using technology.
  • Ask your children to show you how they use technology and to teach you about the technological tools they use.
  • Reach an agreement with your children about Internet rules.
  • Consider a Family Internet Use Contract (PDF).

For more information on how to prevent and respond to cyberbullying, refer to the following links:


Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.


Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.


Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.


Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.


Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.


Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.


Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and local and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.


Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department of Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.


Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.


Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.


Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.


Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.


Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.


Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.


Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.


Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.


Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.


Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.


Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.


Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.