Should cyberbullying be a crime? Oneida County proposes new law
Oneida County may become just the fifth county in New York State to make cyber-bullying a crime.
Oneida County Legislators are scheduled to vote on a proposed law on November 13 that would make cyber-bullying an unclassified misdemeanor, with a possible fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or up to a year in jail.
"The problem with cyber bullying is that it's anonymous," says Legislator Harmony Speciale. "The perpetrator can not see the harm they are inflicting on their victims. There's no respite for the victims of this crime. It's a 24/7 inescapable thing that happens."
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says the law would only be used to go after those who are threatening or harassing people over a long period of time on social media, websites, or other online forms of communication. He says the bill has been carefully tailored so as to not restrict legitimate free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.
"That's what this is directed at. It's not meant for the one snide comment that somebody puts put there, like 'so and so is a blank blank blank.' It's meant for that long term, relentless attack on somebody and unfortunately all to often we see what happens," said McNamara
Cyber-bullying has been a growing problem in recent years, with some teenagers ever resorting to suicide after being bullied online.