SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - As of this week, cyber bullying is now illegal in the state of Louisiana. Stories of online abuse leading to teen suicide in Texas, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and California led state lawmakers to take action against the crime.
Sticks and stones may break bones, but high schoolers say these days kids are more likely to be scarred in cyber space.
"I think cyber bullying can be as hurtful, if not more hurtful than real bullying from a mental aspect," said Ethan Skaggs.
Skaggs, a student at Caddo Magnet High School, has seen several kids at his school get picked on through Facebook, MySpace, or text messages.
"Cyber bullying is definitely a growing problem," said Skaggs.
Ha thinks kids send hurtful messages over the Internet because it's easier than saying it face to face.
"People say different things that are more hurtful that they wouldn't say in real life," said Skaggs.
A study by the Internet safety group iSafe found 75% of students had visited a web page bashing another student, and more than 10% said they themselves have been bullied online.
Louisiana law makers passed a bill that makes this kind of teasing a crime. "An electronic form of communication, whether it's texting or whether it's through e-mail or things of that nature, where they maliciously and willfully have the intent to coerce, to abuse, torment or intimidate a person," said Representative Roy Burrell.
Now, anyone over the age of 18 caught cyber bullying anyone younger could face a $500 fine or 6 months in jail. Kids under 17 caught cyber bullying will have to undergo counseling.
"Make them aware of the fact that this can lead to something more serious," said Burrell.
If you want to report this type of crime, law makers say you can contact local law enforcement or your child's school.