Usually starting in elementary and lasting through high school, what their peers think matters greatly to many Utah children teens and slander or defamation by any one person can be devastating and result in criminal charges.
Gossip or bad mouthing of peers by Utah kidscan happen whether through word of mouth, passing notes, or by text messages, Instagram, Snap Chat, and other online forums. While a little gossip is expected around school, although still discouraged, it can take a drastic turn if it is done with the intention of publicly humiliating the other person.
Defamation is described by law.com as “the act of making untrue statements about another which damages his/her reputation. If the defamatory statement is printed or broadcast over the media it is libel and, if only oral, it is slander.” Defamation is usually described as an intentional act by which lies are told with the objective of mentally or emotionally hurting another person. For this reason, it is against the law.
Penalties for defamation
Utah Code 76-9-404 states “A person is guilty of criminal defamation of he knowingly communicates to any person orally or in writing any information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule.” They also add that “criminal defamation is a class B misdemeanor.”
Never a good reason
Utah kidsmay think they have a good reason for telling lies about a person. Maybe they are retaliating for the person embarrassing them at an earlier date? Perhaps they lack adequate self-esteem and choose to bring others down in an attempt to raise themselves up. Whatever excuse, there is never a good enough reason to bully another person. Not only can the bully face criminal charges, but their hurtful actions and words during a difficult and pivotal time in a person’s life can have lifelong negative effects on the victim.