Yo California dads, do you have a teenager? Chances are that they’re on MySpace, Facebook, or some other social network. Tshaka Armstrong, Founder of Digital Shepherds, explains that California’s new “SB 1411” law will give parents tools to protect their children against cyberbullying.

Armstrong describes a parent whose son’s social network account was hacked; the hackers continued to leave offensive messages on the victim’s behalf. The parents went to the police, but were told their two choices were, as Armstrong says, to “handle it on your own and try to get the school involved or press charges and the offending children will be charged with a felony.” Armstrong continues: “few parents really want to have another child brought up on felony charges (in California) for what is essentially a malicious- albeit, illegal – prank.”

Looks like the main section for parents to watch would be Section 528.5, which, (edited for relevancy) says:

…any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense punishable…by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

In this new digital age – where children tend to spend more time online with their friends than (as in decades past) out on the street corner, it’s important that they’re protected with the same severity as it would be IRL. After all, it was a lot harder “back in the day” to make a vinyl mask that was lifelike enough to trick your friends into thinking you were someone else – to the point where you could seriously defame someone and ruin their reputation. Nowadays, all it takes is a misplaced Facebook password and an inflammatory status post, and a whole high school can turn against a kid.

All this online stuff is relatively unique and new to the legal system – and laws like California’s SB 1411 help parents drag the legal system into the 21st century!

Sauce: Digital Shepherds