CRANSTON, R.I. (WJAR) — With social media expanding, online safety is becoming tricky. Cyber-bullying starts at a young age, and it's taking on even more creative forms.
"It's spreading like wildfire," said media attorney Brian Lamoureux.
Online social media harassment is infiltrating schools, and its victims falling prey to cyber-bullying.
"Kids these days are using their devices to make bad choices, and then circulating their bad choices among their friends," said Lamoureux.
Bullying has always been around. Children have always picked on each other. But how kids are bullied is changing, and not for the better.
"And if my words hurt you, I immediately get feedback that I've hurt you," said Lamoureux. "Online and on texting, these children are not developing their responsive reactions to their own conduct."
The posts live forever online. Screen shots taken, pictures emailed back and forth and saved.
"It never goes away, and the victim rightfully feels they'll never be able to put it past them, because there's a record of it out there, and when will I see this again?" said Lamoureux.
Earlier, Burrillville High School students were accused posting hundreds of sexually explicit images of underage high school students online.
Rhode Island is one of a few states that hasn't passed a revenge porn law that criminalizes posting nude pictures online without the consent of the person in the photo.
"Our laws aren't necessarily caught up to date yet," said Lamoureux.
So, these crimes are charged as child pornography, harassment, and cyber-stalking and bullying.
But hurtful and hateful behavior doesn't just apply to children. Adults are taking to "trolling," a term for deliberately offensive posts aimed at upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response.
"I see older parents and older grandparents. I've seen all ages behaving badly online," said Lamoureux.
If the bullying just won't go away, NBC 10 News asked Lamoureux if ignoring online comments is a good method.
"Great method," said Lamoureux. "Because you're not going to be able to respond to them in a way that's helpful and chances are it's going to be very unproductive for you."