Cyberbullying is becoming a worldwide issue, and a local senator is spreading the word in his district about how bad it actually is.
The term cyberbullying means harming other people via the internet or other technologies such as cell phones. The phrase has been growing in popularity over the last few years, especially with a number of suicides of teenagers and young adults attributed to cyberbullying.
Senator Jeff Klein, along with members of the Independent Democratic Conference, proposed legislation in September that would make cyberbullying a crime comparable to stalking, and in some cases manslaughter.
On Wednesday, November 16, Klein addressed members of Community Education Council 8 at P.S. 304, discussing the new legislation, the severity of cyberbullying, and the new “Cyberbullycensus,” which he encourages kids statewide to take to determine how widespread the issue actually is.
“As we have tragically witnessed, words can kill in the digital age,” Klein said. “That’s why I have proposed legislation to modernize New York’s stalking laws and treat cyberbullying with the seriousness that it deserves.”
CEC 8, which consists of parents, administrators and educators from local communities, were given the exact details of the proposed legislation. Should the bill be passed into law, the crime of third-degree stalking, a class A misdemeanor, would include cyberbullying. Also, it would expand the charge of second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony, to include what is known as “bullycide,” or a person who engages in cyberbullying and intentionally causes the victim of the offense to commit suicide.
The “Cyberbullycensus,” which is now available on the senator’s website, is a 12 question survey for students in third grade through twelfth grade anywhere in the country. The anonymous survey was designed to determine students attitudes towards cyberbullying, as well as any personal experiences with it. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, more than 43 percent of teenagers have reported being the victims of cyberbullying.
“The New York Cyberbully Census will enable us to gather hard data about the extent of cyberbullying,” Klein said. “It will help build the coalitions we need to combat this destructive behavior, and help save lives.”
Klein, along with IDC members Senator Diane Savino, Senator David Carlucci, and Senator David Valesky, will continue to travel around their districts to discuss the issues of cyberbullying with local organizations, schools, and more.
For more information visit www.nysenate.gov/senator/jeffrey-d-klein.
Reach Vito Signorile via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383.