Bullying in any form will not be tolerated
New York State Sen. Mark Grisanti is the first Western New York lawmaker to co-sponsor and support Sen. Jeffery Klein and his fellow members of the Independent Democrats Conference on legislation to crack down on cyber-bulling in New York state.
The bill (S.6132) updates New York's stalking and harassment laws to cover electronic bullying. Additionally, it allows for criminal prosecution of particular cyber-bullying incidents under New York's hate crime statutes.
The introduction of this legislation by Klein comes in the wake of numerous bullying-related teen tragedies, most recently the death of a Staten Island teenager who, according to family members, took her own life amid constant cyber-bullying attacks.
"Cyber-bullying is happening everywhere. We, as a community, have experienced its effects firsthand in Western New York," Grisanti said. "This legislation will allow prosecutors to prosecute these crimes and hopefully prevent any other tragedies from happening. Bullying in any form will not be tolerated."
The legislation would:
•Update the crime of third-degree stalking to include bullying of a youth by electronic communications.
•Add electronic communications to the means of which to commit the crime of aggravated harassment.
•Modernize the crime of first-degree criminal impersonation to include electronic communications.
Third-degree stalking and aggravated harassment are both currently Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail. The crimes are eligible to be elevated to felonies if they violate New York's hate crime statutes. First-degree criminal impersonation is currently a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
"Technology is ever-changing, and our children need to be protected from the cowards who harass and bully someone by using a computer or a cell phone. I will do whatever I can in my conference to make this a top priority this legislative session," Grisanti said.
The National Crime Prevention Council reports that 43 percent of all teens in the U.S. have been subjected to cyber-bullying. That number jumps to 53 percent for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.