IMPRISONMENT and a fine reaching as much as P200,000 are proposed penalties under a new bill that seeks to punish the cyberbullying of children.

Under House Bill No. 9711, filed by party-list Representative Marissa P. Magsino, the penalty for those found guilty of cyber-bullying children will be determined by the courts.

Acts of cyber-bullying cited in the bill include spreading lies or posting embarrassing photos or videos of the child on social media, as well as sending, sharing or posting foul messages or accusations that may cause psychological damage to the child.   

In a statement, Magsino said: “Cyber-bullying may be particularly damaging because unlike traditional bullying — which is often limited to schools and known bullies — cyberbullying can occur at any time and be perpetrated by anonymous sources.”

Impersonating the child through fake accounts will also be punished, according to the measure.

Provisions of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Act may be applied to a child’s case, Ms. Magsino said.

A 2022 study by cybersecurity firm Surfshark said that Filipino children are one of the most at risk of online exposure next to Thailand.

Children in the Philippines “don’t have the skills to deal with cyberbullying or other common cyber threats,” according to the study. “This bill seeks to specifically prohibit and penalize acts of cyberbullying directed against children who are much vulnerable to these acts,” Ms. Magsino said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz