Almost everyone knows the tragic story of 15 year old Amanda Cummings. A few days after Christmas, Amanda jumped in front of a bus while holding a suicide note.
Suffering from months of harassment because of a relationship with an 18 year old male, Amanda could not handle it anymore. Family members claim that bullies took her phone, shoes and jacket. The bullies even posted tormenting comments on her Facebook page as she lay fatally injured in a bed at Staten Island University Hospital. Abusive messages were also posted on her memorial Facebook page even while the funeral was in process.
Bullying used to be on the school playground or in the street on the way home from school. A few classmates may have threatened or even beat up a student. Nowadays, bullying is a 24/7 electronic torment device that spreads like wildfire. Within hours a person might feel that his or her life is in danger as words and pictures can be distributed via the internet.
In response, a New York State Senator has introduced a bill to make the penalties for cyberbullying much stronger.
In a written statement, Senator Klein’s office said:
“Tragically, we’re seeing modern technology used as a weapon and our laws have not kept pace with that technology. This legislation will give prosecutors the tools they need to treat cyberbullying as the crime it is and also send a message that this type of reckless and potentially deadly behavior will not be tolerated.”
Among other things, it would fully address the idea of using electronic communication to harass or stalk someone.”
The new law, which will likely enjoy bi-partisan support, will have three features:
- Include bullying of a youth by electronic communications in the crime of Third Degree Stalking
- Include electronic communications in the crime of Aggravated Harassment.
- Provide hate crime status to certain types of cyberbullying.
Sen. Klein has been working on the cyberbullying law with anti-bully advocate Jamie Isaacs. Jamie suffered from cyberbullying for six years.
According to her mother, Anne Isaacs, students from her school threatened Jamie almost daily using email, instant messages, Facebook and text messages. Senator Klein said that the bullying was so severe that she had over 200 kids daily saying hateful things about Jamie.
She created an anti-bullying foundation, the Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying, dedicated to helping teens and children.
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