From the Desk of Assemblyman Charles Lavine

January 21, 2011

In the wake of a growing epidemic of adolescent suicide caused by cyberbullying, which has become a problem nationwide, one thing is clear in our society today: newer and more insidious threats exist against our children both in school and at home. It is essential that we act together to limit their destructive power.

The dangers of bullying to our kids in their schools and in the online social networks present an unprecedented challenge to their safety. Our ability to protect them through the law has not kept pace with the speed of our technological advancement.

We are terribly saddened by news reports of children taking their own lives because of incessant internet harassment. Whether they are victimized because of how they look or how they behave, or in many cases, for their perceived sexual orientation, it is time to fight to put the legal framework in place to protect them from the bullies at school and from cowards lurking behind their computers.

In response to these tragedies, I am proposing a bill that will punish cyberbullies for their actions and provide real penalties for those who choose to take part in such disgusting behavior. This bill will create the crimes of cyber assault and cyber impersonation in New York State. The new crime of cyber assault will punish those who go online to hurt others. Cyber impersonation will punish those who assume a false identity to accomplish their dirty work.

In today’s world, we all need to appreciate that hateful conduct can be just as damaging whether on a computer or in person. We grieve for the loss of those who have been victimized by cyberbullying. Let us work together to take the necessary steps to eradicate this epidemic from our society once and for all.