Attorneys visit English classes, present legal side of cyberbullying


Attorneys teach students about the legal consequences of cyberbullying. This year was the first time attorneys from the Maryland State Bar Association came to Whitman to present. Photo courtesy Bill Hall.

By Lukas Troost

Lawyers from the Maryland State Bar Association visited English classes May 3 to educate students about the legal consequences of cyberbullying. The presentations were part of a community outreach program directed towards preventing high school students from taking part in online harassment.

Four attorneys presented “Being Smarter With Your Smartphone” in sophomore, junior and senior classes. The presentations also took place at two other schools, one in Baltimore County, and the other in Prince George’s County.

Speakers began the presentation by discussing teen suicides caused by cyberbullying and the legal implications for perpetrators of cyberbullying. They emphasized how seemingly harmless texts have serious legal consequences, ranging from fines to jail time. Staff present in the room found it especially relevant.

“For my kids, some of the texts that I’ve seen them get are close to breaking the law,” English teacher Melissa Carr said. “I think it was good to make the kids aware that sometimes when you text and think you’re joking, it can be taken the wrong way.”

Speakers asked the audience to decide if different scenarios ranging from social media comments to intimidating texts were illegal, and if so, what law they broke. Each instance was meant to be relatable to students, featuring situations like breakups and other common high school events.

“[Cyberbullying laws] are being paid more attention to in the legislature nowadays,” event organizer Pallavi Kachoria said. “They’re becoming more serious but so are the tools and the applications.”

Kachoria is an attorney at Paley, Rothman, Goldstein, Rosenberg, Eig & Cooper, Chted and a Whitman parent. This was part of the reason she decided to bring the lecture to Whitman.

Senior Zain Yaqub found the presentation helpful and unique compared to others given in school on the same topic.

“The presentation was good because it brought recognition to cyberbullying by examining the laws and punishments surrounding it,” Yaqub said.