Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, and his fellow Independent Democratic Conference members today introduced legislation to crack down on cyberbullying—a component that was left out of tougher bullying laws adopted in 2010.
Klein said in a statement today that the bill (S.6132) would update New York’s stalking and harassment laws to cover electronic bullying and allow for criminal charges in cyberbullying incidents under the state’s hate crime statutes.
In 2010, the state Legislature passed the Dignity for All Students Act. It prohibits harassment and discrimination against public-school students while on school grounds and requires that teachers and staff members undergo training to learn how to recognize and deal with bullying.
But cyberbullying wasn’t specified in the law, which was signed by then-Gov. David Paterson in September 2010.
“Tragically, we’re seeing modern technology used as a weapon and our laws have not kept pace with that technology,” Klein said in a statement.
The legislation would make cyberbullying a crime of third-degree stalking and aggravated harassment. It would also extend the law to first degree criminal impersonation to include electronic communications. The first two crimes are class A misdemeanors punishable by up to a 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 a Class E Felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison, Klein said.
The legislation has an Assembly sponsor: Assemblyman William Scarborough, D-Queens.
The IDC in October lauched has launched the New York Cyberbully Census to gauge cases of cyberbulling.